Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Representative Areas Program

Biophysical Operational Principles 2002

Source: accessed 30/6/04

The independent Scientific Steering Committee (SSC), comprising of scientists with expertise in the Great Barrier Reef Region, provided advice to the GBRMPA on scientific issues relevant to the selection of representative areas of biodiversity. 

The following Biophysical Operational Principles (BOPs) were recommended by the SSC to guide the establishment of a new network of no-take areas that would achieve the objectives of the Representative Area Program (RAP).   The following principles have been developed using best available knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and general principles of reserve design, and have been applied, as far as practicable, during the RAP and the rezoning process:

  1. Have no-take areas the minimum size of which is 20km along the smallest dimension (except for coastal bioregions, refer to Principle 6);
  2. Have larger (versus smaller) no-take areas;
  3. Have sufficient no-take areas to insure against negative impacts on some part of a bioregion;
  4. Where a reef is incorporated into no-take zones, the whole reef should be included;
  5. Represent a minimum amount of each reef bioregion in no-take areas;
  6. Represent a minimum amount of each non-reef bioregion in no-take areas;
  7. Represent cross-shelf and latitudinal diversity in the network of no-take areas;
  8. Represent a minimum amount of each community type and physical environment type in the overall network taking into account principle 7;
  9. Maximise use of environmental information to determine the configuration of no-take areas to form viable networks; include biophysically special/unique places; and
  10. Include consideration of sea and adjacent land uses in determining no-take areas.

(Refer to the Information Sheet Biophysical Operating Principles available on the GBRMPA website for more details - including a discussion of the '20%' target)

The BOPs need to be treated as a package used to underpin the choice of what number, size and location of no-take areas to implement. They refer to recommended minimum levels of protection. The SSC considers that to achieve the objectives of the RAP the GBRMPA should protect at least these amounts in each bioregion and each habitat. None of these recommendations is for ‘ideal’ or ‘desired’ amounts.

Section 8.10 (Achievement of the Biophysical Operational Principles) of the Basis for Zoning document outlines the extent to which the BOPs were achieved in the Draft Zoning Plan.


Socio-economic principles

"Increased protection for the Reef will ensure a bright future for Indigenous Australians and their Sea Country."

Dr Evelyn Scott, GBRMPA Board member.

A summary of the Social, Economic, Cultural and Management Feasibility Operational Principles developed by the committee is given below. These principles have, as far as practicable, guided the rezoning processes.

  1. Maximise complementarity of no-take areas with human values, activities and opportunities;
  2. Ensure that final selection of no-take areas recognises social costs and benefits;
  3. Maximise placement of no-take areas in locations which complement and include present and future management and tenure arrangements; and
  4. Maximise public understanding and acceptance of no-take areas, and facilitate enforcement of no-take areas.

(Please refer to the Information Sheet Social, economic, cultural and management feasibility operational principles’  for more details).