What is an aquatic event authority?

An organised activity on water by an individual or organisation (for  example swimming races, sailing and yachting regattas, waterskiing competitions, powerboat races and fireworks displays) where  the event is likely to affect the normal operation of ships in the area of the event.

Organisers must obtain the consent of the regulating authority, either the Gold Coast Waterways Authority (GCWA) or Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) who will assess the application.

It is an offence to hold an aquatic event without appropriate consent. To avoid disappointment check MSQ’s website for restricted areas or speed limits and contact GCWA about scheduled aquatic events in Gold Coast waterways before submitting your application.


Low Risk events: Applications must be submitted no less than 30 days prior to the proposed event (e.g. sailing, yachting regattas, swimming races)

For High Risk events: Applications must be submitted no less than 90 days prior to the proposed event (e.g. waterskiing, power boat race display)


An application may be refused if you do not provide sufficient information to enable due consideration of all marine safety aspects.

Who do I apply to for an aquatic event authority?

If you intend to hold your event entirely within Gold Coast waters, then make an application to GCWA.

If you intend to hold your event outside Gold Coast waters, or across Gold Coast waters and those outside of Gold Coast waters, then make an application to MSQ. 

If GCWA decides to grant you consent to hold the aquatic event, then GCWA will issue an aquatic event authority with conditions specific to the event to ensure marine safety for all waterway users in or near the event area.

If you’re planning to include a fireworks display in your event, please note that you must comply with all requirements for a local fire ban imposed for the Gold Coast local government area by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, in accordance with the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990.

Application process

To make an application to hold an aquatic event you must:

  • Download our Aquatic Events Application Checklist to ensure you have all the required information before lodging your application.
  • Complete an Aquatic Event Authority Application form
  • Pay the prescribed fee. As this fee changes each year in line with CPI, please contact GCWA on 07 5539 7350 to confirm the fee. Payments may be made by mail or in person. Payment options include: cash, cheque, money order, EFTPOS (in person) debit and credit card
  • Provide supporting documentation.

Applications can be lodged in person, via email mail@gcwa.qld.gov.au or by posting to PO Box 107, Southport, QLD 4215

You are responsible for providing us with all supporting information through documentation to support the application. For an application to be properly made, you must submit the application form, all supporting information and pay the prescribed fee. If you do not do this, then GCWA will have no alternative but to refuse the application.

Last updated: 24 October 2019