Proposal to expand the Macquarie Island Marine Park
The statutory consultation period has now closed on a proposal to expand the Macquarie Island Marine Park.
This proposed expansion aims to increase protection of a unique environment, which supports significant biodiversity and has experienced relatively low levels of disturbance.
The Director of National Parks will now prepare a report to the Minister for the Environment and Water on the comments received and the Director’s views on the comments.
Following consideration of this report, the Minister for the Environment and Water may request the Governor General proclaim an expanded Macquarie Island Marine Park.
Further information on the proposal to expand Macquarie Island Marine Park can be found below:
- Public consultation paper: Proposal to expand Macquarie Island Marine Park.
- Commonwealth Gazette notice
The Macquarie Island Marine Park lies offshore from the isolated sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island (half way between Australia and Antarctica) 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 some of the waters in the Macquarie Island Marine Park and the in-shore waters in the Macquarie Island Marine Reserve, a Tasmanian marine park.
Animals found in the marine park include:
- royal penguins
- rockhopper penguins
- subantarctic fur seals
- southern elephant seals
- black-browed albatrosses
- grey-headed albatrosses
- grey petrels.
The marine park currently covers 162,000 square kilometres, with depths from 86 metres to 6,341 metres.
The marine park currently has a Sanctuary Zone, providing the highest level of protection for birds and other marine life. The Sanctuary Zone is managed to minimise disturbance to the environment from human activities, so only scientific research is allowed.
The marine park also currently includes a Habitat Protection Zone. While some activities are allowed in the Habitat Protection Zone, others are restricted in order to protect important habitats.
Each year a small number of commercial tourist vessels make the long and potentially very rough journey to Macquarie Island, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for nature lovers lucky enough to find themselves on board.
To enjoy the sights and stories from Macquarie Island without having to test your sea-legs, visit the Australian Antarctic Division page, which provides weekly updates from:
- the rangers
- station teams. Get the latest research and management news:
- find out what it’s like to work on the island
- learn more about the wildlife
- enjoy the stunning photos. It’s enough to make anyone jealous.
Macquarie Island is a subantarctic science hub.
Researchers brave the cold, windy conditions to carry out a range of science programs, both terrestrial and marine.
For example, their work includes attaching tiny GPS trackers to ‘spy’ on seabirds when they’re out at sea. By better understanding where seabirds forage, especially during their breeding season, we can provide stronger protection for the places they use and the food supplies they need.
With over 50 per cent of albatross and penguin species threatened with extinction, this work has never been more important.
In 2017, researchers on Macquarie Island attached GPS trackers to black-browed albatrosses during the breeding season.
Male and female albatrosses share incubation duties; one bird minds the egg while the other goes to sea for food, and then they swap.
The researchers found that during this period when the egg was being incubated, the albatrosses foraged within 200 kilometres of the island, a distance that coincides with the marine park.
86 to 6,341 m
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