World Environment Day: Macquarie Island Marine Park to triple in size
Macquarie Island Marine Park is set to triple in size thanks to a decision by the Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, on a final marine park design to place an extra 385,000 square kilometres of Australia’s oceans under high protection.
Minister Plibersek will now recommend to the Governor-General, for his consideration in Executive Council, the proclamation to expand the Macquarie Island Marine Park.
This is a huge win for world ocean protection. The expanded design will see the Macquarie Island Marine Park grow from 162,000 square kilometres to 475,465 square kilometres. Ninety-three per cent or 385,000 square kilometres of the park – an area larger than Germany – will be completely closed to fishing, mining and other extractive activities, making a globally significant contribution to the health and resilience of our oceans.
Halfway between Hobart and Antarctica, Macquarie Island and the surrounding waters are home to some of the world’s most iconic species including the endemic royal penguin, rockhopper penguin, subantarctic fur seal, southern elephant seal, black-browed albatross and the grey petrel.
Following two months of public consultation, the Government has signed off on the marine park design. Over 14,700 submissions were received through the process, with over 99% in support.
The Minister’s decision announced today incorporates minor adjustments to the Patagonian Toothfish fishing zone in response to feedback provided by the sustainable commercial fishing industry that operate around Macquarie Island. The expanded marine park will not impact their existing operations.
This decision means our marine parks will make up over 48 per cent of Australian oceans.
Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek:
“I want to protect our oceans for our kids and grandkids. This announcement is part of our mission to conserve Australia’s special places, particularly those that are home to threatened species.
“Macquarie Island is an exceptional place. It’s a remote wildlife wonderland – a critical breeding ground for millions of seabirds, seals and penguins.
“It is the only place on earth where royal penguins breed, with their distinctive yellow mohawk crests. It’s a place where endangered albatross come to rest their giant wings after foraging for food at sea.
“Australians understand that the health of our nation is bound up with the health of our natural world. As Minister for the Environment, I am determined to protect more of what’s precious, to repair more of what’s damaged, and to manage nature better for the future.”
The development of a new management plan for the Macquarie Island Marine Park, and the other 13 marine parks in the South-east region, is underway.
Macquarie Island Marine Park lies offshore from the isolated subantarctic Macquarie Island about 1500 km south-east of Tasmania and extends far out into the Southern Ocean.
Macquarie Island was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997 on the basis of its outstanding natural values. The listing includes the in-shore waters of the Tasmanian park, the Macquarie Island Nature Reserve, and some of the waters in the Macquarie Island Marine Park that surround this.