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About Moreton Bay

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Getting there and getting around

Moreton Bay Marine Park can be reached from coastal towns between Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast to Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast.

The islands of Moreton Bay can be reached by private boat, barge or water taxi. Maritime Safety Queensland has a series of boating maps for Moreton Bay and surrounding areas to assist with navigation. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Wheelchair accessibility

Some of the barge landings, boat ramps and commercially operated tours are wheelchair accessible. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Park features

Moreton Bay Marine Park was first declared in 1993 to protect its unique values and high biodiversity while still allowing people to use it. The marine park covers 3400km2 and stretches 125km from Caloundra to the Gold Coast. It takes in most of the bay's tidal waters, including many river estuaries and extends seawards to the limit of Queensland waters. The landward boundary is generally the line of highest astronomical tide.

Moreton Bay Marine Park protects a range of marine and coastal environments including rocky shores, internationally significant wetlands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass meadows and sandy beaches. These habitats provide important seasonal resources for migratory wading birds, humpback whales and marine turtles. Permanent resident species include dolphins, dugong, shorebirds, grey nurse sharks and various fish species.

Camping and accommodation


Camping is available in these nearby parks:

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation on the mainland in and around Caloundra, Redcliffe, Cleveland and the Gold Coast. Accommodation is also available on several islands in Moreton Bay including Bribie Island, Moreton Island, North Stradbroke Island, South Stradbroke Island, Coochiemudlo Island, Lamb Island and Russell Island. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Things to do

Boating and fishing

The marine park offers excellent boating and fishing in the sheltered waters of the Pumicestone Passage and Moreton Bay and the ocean beaches of Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island. Read more about boating safety and things you should do when boating to look after the park. See below for information on things to know before you go.

There are also a number of Fish Habitat Areas (FHAs) declared in Moreton Bay. These areas protect important fish habitats from the impacts of coastal development, while still allowing legal fishing.

Guided tours and talks

Several commercial operators run tours that cater for activities such as whale watching, diving, fishing and sightseeing. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Viewing wildlife

Beaches, sandbanks and mudflats are important areas for shorebirds (wading birds and seabirds). More than 40,000 migratory shorebirds visit the area each September to April and Moreton Bay is internationally recognised as a Ramsar site for its importance to the survival of these birds. At least 32 species of migratory shorebirds have been recorded in the park, including eastern curlews, grey-tailed tattlers, red-necked stints, ruddy turnstones, bar-tailed godwits and sandpipers.

Whale watching is popular in Moreton Bay from June to September. To ensure the whales' safety—and that of the people around them—strict regulations apply. While in the vicinity of whales, skippers and passengers on recreational craft must adhere to whale watching rules and guidelines.

To keep you, the whales and your vessel safe:

  • keep a sharp lookout for whales and whale watchers
  • slow down or stop to see in which direction whales are travelling
  • do not approach a whale from directly in front or behind
  • stay at least 100m away (300m for a jet ski)
  • if there are three or more boats, stay 300m away
  • stay at least 500m away from 'special interest' whales like 'Migaloo' the white whale
  • if possible, always stay on the landward side of the whale.

Several commercial tour operators offer whale watching cruises. For more information see the tourism information links below.

When out in your boat keep watch for green turtles, loggerhead turtles and hawksbill turtles, dugong and the bay's two resident dolphin species; the bottlenose dolphin and the Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin.

Other things to do

Several areas within the marine park are popular for diving and snorkelling. Enjoy the experience and leave only bubbles.

Things to know before you go

Quick guide to activities


Boating is largely unrestricted in the marine park, however boat operators must:

  • adhere to rules in go slow and no anchoring areas (see designated areas (PDF, 1.1M))
  • ensure they do not unreasonably disturb shorebirds anywhere in the marine park
  • not discharge any waste, including treated or untreated sewage in marine national park (green) zones. For other restrictions refer to Maritime Safety Queensland vessel sewage discharge restriction maps.

Boating maps by Maritime Safety Queensland should be used as a guide for navigation.

Jet skis and other personal watercraft (PWC)

In the zoning plan jet skis are considered vessels and the same rules apply. Operators must:

  • adhere to rules in go slow and no anchoring areas (see designated areas (PDF, 1.1M))
  • ensure they do not unreasonably disturb shorebirds anywhere in the marine park.

Motorised water sports

In the go slow areas for turtles and dugong and natural values, vessels (including PWC) cannot undertake motorised water sports. This includes:

  • driving a vessel other than in a straight line; for example driving in circles, weaving, and surfing down or jumping over waves, swell or wash
  • towing a person, such as for waterskiing, parasailing or wakeboarding
  • the PWC not taking the most reasonable direct route between two places.

Time limits

Time limits apply on anchoring in the marine park—anchoring more than 14 consecutive days, or more than 30 days in any period of 60 days, in one area requires a permit.

A two hour time limit applies to public moorings in the marine park.

Recreational fishing, crabbing, bait gathering and netting

Activity Where allowed

Line fishing and trolling

Allowed in all zones except marine national park (green) zones where it is prohibited.

Limited to two lines each and a total of two hooks per angler in conservation park (yellow) zones.


Allowed in all zones except marine national park (green) zones where it is prohibited.

Limited to four crab pots per person in conservation park (yellow) zones.

Bait gathering

(taking by hand or hand-held implement only)

Allowed in all zones except marine national park (green) zones where it is prohibited.

Limited spearfishing

(spearfishing that does not include the use of a power-head, firearm, light or underwater breathing apparatus—other than a snorkel)

Allowed in all zones except marine national park (green) zones where it is prohibited.


Allowed in all zones except marine national park (green) zones where it is prohibited.

Bait netting is the only type of netting allowed in conservation park (yellow) zones.

Vehicles prohibited

Motor vehicles are prohibited in the tidal lands and tidal waters of Bullock Creek Claypan (PDF, 225K).

Permits and fees

Marine park permits are important for the management of Moreton Bay Marine Park. Through the permit process the NPSR can place conditions on certain activities, separate conflicting activities, limit the impacts on high-use and sensitive areas, collect data and encourage responsible behaviour. The zoning plan states activities that can occur without specific permission and those that require a permit. Marine park permits are required for most commercial or high impact activities including:

  • commercial tourism
  • collecting restricted marine plants or animals
  • works considered consistent with the object of the zone
  • constructing or installing a jetty, boat ramp or revetment wall
  • dredging, material extraction and disposal
  • aquaculture operations (not including the addition of feed)
  • non-accredited research and educational activities
  • vessel charter operations
  • operation of a hovercraft.

Before undertaking any activity in the marine park check the zoning plan (PDF) to determine whether a marine park permit is required. Issuing a permit is not automatic, each application is considered on its merits.

If in any doubt about whether a permit is required, contact NPSR for assistance.

When applying for a permit, an information pack containing background material and an application form will be sent.

Essentials to bring

Opening hours

The park is open 24 hours a day.


Pets are allowed on vessels in the marine park, but are prohibited in all national parks. Dogs are prohibited on beaches and intertidal areas where a marine park is adjacent to a national park or where prohibited by a regulatory notice. In other areas dogs must be controlled or restrained so they do not disturb shorebirds. It is recommended that you leave pets at home or keep them aboard the boat.

Climate and weather

Moreton Bay Marine Park has a mild, subtropical climate. The average daily temperature range is 22 to 30°C in summer and 12 to 22°C in winter. For more information see the tourism information links below. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available in coastal towns from Caloundra to the Gold Coast. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Staying safe

  • Check tide times and weather forecasts available from the Bureau of Meteorology.
  • Know the risks, know your equipment, know your responsibilities and know your boat.
  • Seek local advice about strong currents and tidal influences.

Looking after the park

Plan your visit

Make sure you are familiar with the entry and use provisions for the marine park zone you are entering.

Organise your gear

Prepare and check your gear. Organise a bucket or bin with lockable lids to stow rubbish. Transfer bait and foodstuff to reusable containers. Use biodegradable cleaners for hygiene. Invest in high quality fishing gear—cheap line, nets and pots break easily and increase the chance of them being lost or abandoned. Bring cans rather than bottles.

Stow it... don't throw it!

Help keep Moreton Bay Marine Park beautiful. If you ship it in, ship it out. Marine wildlife will ingest fragments of rope, plastic bags and fishing line. These are not digested and cause a slow painful death.

Fish for the future

The natural resources of Moreton Bay are coming under increasing pressure from people. To help conserve fish stocks take only what you need and leave the rest for another day.

Check the activities guide and fishing information to ensure you are familiar with marine park restrictions on fishing activities.

Other fishing restrictions occur in Moreton Bay. For more information contact the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol.

Take care when anchoring

Take special care when anchoring—fragile seagrass and coral habitats are easily damaged by anchors. Anchoring is prohibited at Flinders Reef, Flat Rock and Myora marine national park zones. Outside these areas:

  • try to anchor in sand away from coral and seagrass
  • use a reef pick with heavy plastic tubing over the anchor chain
  • motor up to haul in the anchor.

Where there are no approved moorings anchoring limits apply to prevent damage to seagrass, coral and bottom-dwelling animals and to manage vessel numbers.

  • A permit is required to anchor for more than 14 consecutive days in one area.
  • The time limit resets if a vessel is moved during the period and anchored at least one nautical mile from the area.
  • A vessel can anchor in one area for a maximum of 30 days in any 60 day period.
  • A vessel cannot navigate in the marine park for more than 120 days in any one period of 12 months unless it is a vessel that is transferring passengers or vehicles in the marine park, moored in a designated mooring area, or navigating under a permit.

Bait gathering

Moreton Bay's sandbanks and mudflats are sources of bait, but these areas are also home and food for fish, crabs, birds, turtles and dugong.

  • Bait gathering is prohibited in marine national park (green) zones.
  • Bait gatherers are required to replace seagrass sods in an upright position after removal.
  • Bait worms, eugaries/pipis or yabbies can be collected by hand, fork or yabby pump and the use of other equipment is prohibited (bag limits may apply). Information on fishing bag and size limits can be obtained from Queensland Fisheries, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Restoring the seagrass, mud, or sand after bait digging helps ensure sediment stabilisation and allows regrowth of seagrass beds.

Report incidents promptly

Report marine pollution, including oil, diesel and sewage spills to Maritime Safety Queensland.

Report the following incidents to NPSR:

  • breaches against the zoning plan
  • tag numbers
  • harassment or unauthorised feeding of dolphins
  • details on catching, tag numbers or stranding of grey nurse sharks
  • unusual marine sightings.

Report any sick, injured, dead or stranded marine turtles or marine mammals to RSPCA Queensland or phone 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).

Report illegal fishing activities or marine wildlife trapped in shark nets to Queensland Fisheries.

Look out for shorebirds

Every summer many shorebirds feed on the rich food reserves in Moreton Bay. In April they leave to fly thousands of kilometres to breed in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Each time these birds are disturbed by people, dogs or vehicles they waste valuable energy reserves. This makes flying to breeding grounds and producing healthy young more difficult. In all areas of Moreton Bay Marine Park:

Go slow for those below!

Moreton Bay Marine Park has a number of go slow areas to protect turtles and dugong from boat strike in critical feeding and resting areas. In these areas:

  • all vessels must travel off-the-plane or in displacement mode.
  • motorised water sports are prohibited.
  • all vessels must be operated so as to avoid hitting turtles or dugong.

To protect dugong in southern Moreton Bay there are four go slow areas where vessels larger than 8m must travel at 10 knots or less.

Go slow areas for natural values protect the natural integrity of a location for all marine park users to appreciate and enjoy the undisturbed values and beauty of an area without the disturbance of fast moving vessels. In these areas:

Leave only bubbles

When diving or snorkelling:

  • be properly weighted before entering the water
  • practice buoyancy control and test gear and techniques over sand, well away from any coral
  • secure gear, such as the secondary regulator, so it does not catch on coral
  • never lean on or hold corals and avoid hovering over corals when taking photographs
  • never stand on or rest on coral
  • quietly observe marine wildlife and avoid interrupting their natural behaviour
  • do not handle marine wildlife as they may bite or sting
  • never chase, grab or attempt to ride free-swimming marine life or block their path
  • when planning to dive at Cherubs Cave, Flat Rock or Henderson Rock, refer to the grey nurse shark designated area restrictions on the Moreton Bay Marine Park map (PDF, 2.8M). Read more about diving near grey nurse sharks.

Leave it in the marine park

It is an offence to remove almost any material, such as rock or coral, from the marine park without permission. Depositing any material in the marine park without permission is also an offence.

Let animals find their own food

Never leave out food, scraps or bait or deliberately feed wildlife. It is illegal to feed dolphins unless it is part of a strictly controlled program.

Looking after the marine park from home

Remember, what goes down the stormwater drain, sink and toilet or on the garden in the Moreton region eventually reaches the bay.

  • Keep plastics and other rubbish out of drains and creeks.
  • Keep the local park and gardens clean.
  • Pick up after the dog.
  • Use biodegradable cleaners.
  • Use biodegradable herbicides in the garden.
  • Reduce the use of fertiliser in the garden.

Park management

Moreton Bay Marine Park contributes to the conservation and reasonable use of significant marine natural resources. This is achieved through zoning, designated areas, regulations and permits. The marine park is used for a wide range of activities from recreation to scientific research. Commercial oystering occurs under the Oyster industry management plan for Moreton Bay Marine Park (PDF, 2.0M).

The department manages the marine park as a multiple-use marine protected area. This approach recognises that people use and value marine park resources in many different ways. Unlike a national park on land where everything is protected to the greatest possible extent, the marine park allows for a range of recreational and commercial activities.

Marine park management is all about Moreton Bay remaining a diverse, resilient and productive ecological system that can be enjoyed in the future.

Marine parks, like Moreton Bay, that include marine national park (green) zones have been proven around the world to help conserve marine biodiversity by setting aside some areas where species and habitats can evolve and function relatively undisturbed.

To achieve the best outcome for marine biodiversity, international standards recommend that representative samples of each habitat type found in the marine park be protected in green zones.

Tourism information links

Brisbane Visitor Information Centre
Queen Street Mall, Brisbane QLD 4002
ph (07) 3006 6290
fax (07) 3006 6250

Redlands IndigiScapes Centre
17 Runnymede Road, Capalaba Qld 4157
ph (07) 3824 8611

Redcliffe Central Visitor Information Centre 
Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe
PO Box 66, Redcliffe QLD 4020
ph (07) 3283 3577
fax (07) 3283 3644

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
12 September 2016