The Australian Government manages an estate of marine protected areas (MPA) that are Commonwealth reserves or conservation zones under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Commercial fishing is under strict limitations within these areas.

Unless otherwise determined by legislation the State and Northern Territory governments have primary responsibility for marine environments up to three nautical miles out from the territorial sea baseline. Along most of our coastline, the territorial sea baseline is the low water mark, but in some areas is up to 60 nautical miles offshore.

In general, the Commonwealth Government manages our oceans from the State or Territory limit to the edge of our marine jurisdiction some 200 nautical miles out to sea with the exception of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which extends seaward from the low water mark.

The aim of the Marine Protected Areas is to contribute to the long term ecological viability of marine and estuarine systems, to maintain ecological processes and systems, and to protect Australia’s biological diversity at all levels.
The National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas exists within a broader range of national and State and Territory mechanisms to achieve biodiversity conservation and the complementary sustainable management of Australia’s marine jurisdiction.