Listed threatened species and ecological communities

The EPBC Act provides for the listing of nationally threatened native species and ecological communities, native migratory species and marine species.

The EPBC Act protects Australia's native species and ecological communities by providing for:

  • identification and listing of species and ecological communities as threatened
  • development of conservation advice and recovery plans for listed species and ecological communities
  • development of a register of critical habitat
  • recognition of key threatening processes
  • where appropriate, reducing the impacts of these processes through threat abatement plans



Any person may nominate a native species, ecological community or threatening process for listing under any of the categories specified in the EPBC Act.

Protecting threatened species and ecological communities

Listed threatened species and ecological communities are recognised as a matter of national environmental significance. Consequently, any action that is likely to have a significant impact on listed threatened species and ecological communities under the EPBC Act must be referred to the Minister and undergo an environmental assessment and approval process.

Protected species in Commonwealth areas

Under the EPBC Act, activities in Commonwealth areas that may result in killing, injuring, taking, trading, keeping or moving a member of a listed threatened species or ecological community, a member of a listed migratory species or a member of a listed marine species are illegal without a permit.

Whales and other cetaceans

Under the EPBC Act, all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are protected in Australian waters. The Australian Whale Sanctuary includes all Commonwealth waters from the three nautical mile state waters limit out to the boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone (i.e. out to 200 nautical miles and further in some places). It is an offence to injure, take, trade, keep, move, harass, chase, herd, tag, mark or brand a cetacean in the Australian Whale Sanctuary without a permit.