This paper reviews recent research into the ecological impacts of recreation and tourism on coastal marine fauna in Australia. Despite the high and growing importance of water-based recreation to the Australian economy, and the known fragility of many Australian ecosystems, there has been relatively limited research into the effects of marine tourism and recreation, infrastructure and activities, on aquatic resources. In this paper we have reviewed the ecological impacts on fauna that are caused by outdoor recreation (including tourism) in Australian coastal marine ecosystems. We predict that the single most potentially severe impact of recreation may be the introduction and/or dispersal of non-indigenous species of marine organisms by recreational vessels. Such introductions, together with other impacts due to human activities have the potential to increasingly degrade recreation destinations. In response, governments have introduced a wide range of legislative tools (e.g., impact assessment, protected area reservation) to manage the recreational industry. It would appear, however, that these instruments are not always appropriately applied.