Frequently asked questions

What is a marine park?

Marine parks are ocean-based parks similar to the land-based parks we all know and love. Like national parks, marine parks protect habitats, animals, plants, cultural heritage and geological formations.

Nineteen marine parks were declared in South Australian waters in 2009, covering more than 26,000km2 of sea. They protect a variety of habitats and thousands of species, including iconic animals and birds such as Australian sea lions, leafy sea dragons, dolphins, great white sharks, little penguins and pelicans. They conserve places with strong cultural heritage associations, including those with special significance to Aboriginal people.

Why do we need marine parks?

Southern Australia's waters are home to an amazing diversity of marine life, with about 85% of marine species found nowhere else in the world. Our seas provide employment through fisheries and tourism, and enjoyment to locals and visitors alike. 

Unfortunately, our waters are not immune to global challenges such as pollution, resource use, development, pest organisms and climate change. Evidence from around the world shows that marine parks with sanctuary zones will help us protect our marine environment from increasing pressure. Marine parks are just one of the ways the South Australian Government is working to keep our seas healthy so future generations can continue to benefit from and enjoy them.

What is a sanctuary zone?

Sanctuary zones are the core conservation areas in marine parks, protecting the feeding, breeding, nursery and resting areas for our marine life. Sanctuary zones are ‘no take’ areas, meaning you can’t fish or use fishing gear in them. Collecting or harming plants and animals is prohibited.

Sanctuary zones are managed primarily for conservation. They are important areas where marine life will be able to live, breed and grow. They are also places that people can visit and enjoy, much like national parks on the land.

Where are the sanctuary zones?

Management plans for each park contain detailed maps of sanctuary zone locations. You can find management plans on the individual park pages. About 6 per cent of South Australian waters have been designated as sanctuary zones, leaving 94 per cent of the sea still available for fishing.

Can I still fish in marine parks?

Yes. Sanctuary Zones and Restricted Access Zones are the only places you can’t fish. Every marine park has great fishing spots that you can continue to use. (Note: Normal fishing restrictions continue to apply.)

Is shore fishing allowed in sanctuary zones?

In most no, but in a few special areas yes. Please check the map for the marine park you plan to visit. Special Purpose Areas have been designated to allow shore-based recreational line fishing in some popular locations.

Can I motor through a sanctuary zone in my boat?

Yes.

Can I have fishing gear and fish in my boat while passing through a sanctuary zone?

Yes. You just can’t use the gear in the sanctuary zone and you must have caught any fish you have outside the zone.

Can I anchor my boat in a sanctuary zone?

Yes. Vessels less than 80m in length can anchor in sanctuary zones. The only exceptions are where there are protected shipwrecks within the sanctuary zone.

Can I fish from jetties?

Marine parks do not change existing fishing access to jetties and breakwaters. 

How will I know I’m in a sanctuary zone?

Many people are already familiar with using GPS coordinates or landmarks to find their fishing spots. Maps are freely available as are lists of GPS coordinates showing the location of all sanctuary zones. Major boat ramps and beach access points near sanctuary zones will have signs to inform visitors of the zones’ locations. The free recreational fishing guide app also has maps showing the location of the sanctuary zones.

What if I get caught fishing in a sanctuary zone?

The first time you are caught recreational hook and line fishing in a sanctuary zone, you are entitled to a formal warning and will be given information on where the sanctuary zones are. Other types of fishing or subsequent offences may attract an expiation fee of $315. Serious or repeat offenders may face a maximum penalty of $100,000 or imprisonment for two years.

What do the zones mean?

General managed use - no change to existing use, but managed as part of the park. All recreational activities, including fishing, are allowed.

Habitat protection - protects the sea floor. All recreational activities, including fishing, are allowed. Prawn trawling is prohibited.

Sanctuary zones - areas of high conservation value set aside for conservation and low-impact recreation. No fishing or taking of plants and animals is allowed in these zones. 

Restricted access - areas that are off limits to the public (no entry).

For more detailed information about what activities are allowed in each zone download the List of Activities.

Where can I get coordinates and maps?

You can download GPS coordinates and maps or you can view maps of marine parks on the Find a Park page.

What public consultation was there on marine parks?

Creating South Australia’s marine parks involved one of the biggest public consultation programs in the state’s history. The management plans were shaped and refined over several years with the help of local advisory groups and key stakeholders, and the draft management plans were tested through full public consultation in 2012. 

What are the laws around marine parks?

The Marine Parks Act 2007 and supporting regulations and proclamations can be found on the South Australian Legislation website.