Multi-layered management ‘tools’ (spatial and temporal)

Published: 25 October 2016
Last edited: 20 January 2017
Zoning is only one of many spatial tools used in the Great Barrier Reef. Other spatial layers are depicted in the maps below, showing the same area of the GBR with differing layers overlying the zoning. A range of multi-dimensional management tools (spatial, non-spatial and temporal) are applied, some of which are part of the statutory GBR Zoning Plan, while others are in other statutory documents. Non-spatial management includes bag limits or size limits for fishing, or a wide range of permits; temporal management includes seasonal closures at key fish spawning times or temporary closures for short-term activities like military training. So rather than a single GBR management plan, a comprehensive three-dimensional Management system exists, comprising federal agency plans, State agency plans and other plans (e.g. fisheries management, ports, etc). Today this full suite of management tools comprises a comprehensive management framework, integrated and coordinated across agencies and jurisdictions. However, not every aspect of spatial management is shown in the publicly available zoning maps. Permits (often tied to specific zones or locations within zones) allow a detailed level of site management not possible by zoning alone.


Co-management building
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Alliance and partnership development
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

The Intergovernmental Agreement (the IGA, developed in 1979 but updated in various iterations, i.e. in 2009 and 2015), provides the basis for governments to work cooperatively to manage the GBR using multi-layered management tools. Other parts of the GBR legislation provide the statutory ‘head of power’ to enable the various management provisions to be applied in the GBR and to have force in law (see also the Blue Solution titled the Sound Legislative/Governance Framework for the GBR)

Lessons learned

• If all these management layers were to exist in a single two-dimensional zoning plan, it would be extremely complex and confusing; however, the publicly available zoning maps show only those management layers that are important for the majority of recreational users. • The State of Queensland ‘mirrored’ the federal zoning in the majority of the adjoining State waters which means there is complementary zoning for virtually all the State and Federal waters across the entire GBR from high water mark out to a maximum distance of 250 km offshore • Other complementary management approaches, both spatial and temporal, operate across these jurisdictional boundaries. They have been developed with differing levels of government and with various industries, stakeholders or community groups, and are designed to provide more effective and integrated protection of the entire GBR and thereby increase the resilience of the GBR to cope with escalating pressures.