From 1 July 2023, the Macquarie Island Marine Park has been expanded to cover a total area of 475,465 square kilometres, close to a 300% increase from the previous marine park area.
The Director of National Parks sought public comment on the proposed expansion between 20 March 2023 to 22 May 2023. In response, the Director received a total of 14,736 submissions.
The Director of National Parks considered all comments that were received through the public consultation process and provided a report to the Minister for the Environment and Water in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Following consideration of this report, the Minister for the Environment and Water endorsed the final marine park design recommended by the Director of National Parks.
The Governor-General proclaimed the expanded Macquarie Island Marine Park on 19 June 2023, registered to come into effect from 1 July 2023.
Documents relevant to consultation process can be found at the following links:
- Proposal to expand Macquarie Island Marine Park.
- Commonwealth Gazette notice
- Director of National Parks Report on the public consultation process
- Published submissions
- Proclamation instrument
The Macquarie Island Marine Park features distinctive sub-Antarctic organisms and protects tracts of the wild Southern Ocean to provide migration, feeding and breeding sites for seals, whales, penguins and seabirds. The remoteness and rare geomorphological formations within the marine park have resulted in valuable and globally significant marine and terrestrial features, habitats and species.
Macquarie Island is one of only two marine parks in the Southern Ocean within Australia’s jurisdiction (the other being the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve). The marine park is critically important to the South-east Marine Park Network and the National Representative System of Protected Marine Areas as it is the only representative example of the Macquarie Province bioregion.
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. Macquarie Island Nature Reserve, the World Heritage Area and surrounding waters out to 3 nautical miles are managed by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service.
Among the species calling Macquarie Island and the surrounding marine park waters home are endemic royal penguins, rockhopper penguins, subantarctic fur seals, southern elephant seals, black-browed albatrosses and grey petrels.
Besides numerous seamounts and canyons, Australia’s maritime area around the island contains one of the world’s most significant oceanic ridges - the only place on the planet where rocks from the earth’s mantle surface above the sea level.
The marine park includes 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, and only allows only authorised scientific research and monitoring.
The marine park now incorporates an expansive National Park Zone. This aims to protect and conserve ecosystems, habitats and native species in as natural state as possible. Some non-extractive activities are allowed in this area.
The marine park includes a Habitat Protection Zone. While some activities are allowed in the Habitat Protection Zone, others are restricted in order to protect important pelagic 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 to get the latest research and management news.
86 to 6,341 m
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