Help protect our Sub-Antarctic marine life 

Baby gentoo penguins | Scott Portelli

Australia is responsible for three World Heritage-listed islands in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica – Macquarie, Heard and the McDonald Islands. 

These Sub-Antarctic islands support an abundance of marine life, including elephant seals, whales, albatross and the royal penguin, found nowhere else on the planet. 

But climate change, industrial fishing and pollution are putting ever more pressure on the Southern Ocean.  

History shows that unless precious environments such as these have strong protections in place, they fall victim to threats such as over-fishing and sea-bed mining. 

To give our precious marine life its best chance to survive – and thrive – the Australian Government must create large, fully protected marine sanctuaries in our Sub-Antarctic waters. 

Southern elephant seal | Matt Curnock
Albatross Heard Island | Matt Curnock

With our marine protections currently up for review, NOW is the time to act!  

Join the thousands of Australians who have already helped triple the size of the marine park around Macquarie Island!  

We now need your help to lock in this protection with the best possible management plan – and to strengthen protection for our Aussies down under, down under!

Together, we can protect our Sub-Antarctic marine life! 

Heard and McDonald Islands – A living test tube of life in the Southern Ocean

Even more remote are Australia’s biologically pristine Heard and McDonald Islands which lie 4,000 km south-west of Perth.

Lashed by wind and wild seas, they comprise the only Sub-Antarctic island group with an entirely intact ecosystem, free of any known species directly introduced by humans. This means that biological and evolutionary processes can occur naturally, making these islands a living test tube and important barometer of climate change. 

Heard Island Elephant Seal
Southern elephant seal | Matt Curnock
King Penguins | Matt Curnock

These volcanic islands are a haven for large breeding populations of seabirds and marine mammals such as threatened seals and albatross, an endemic shag and four species of penguins.

Heard Island is also home to Big Ben – an active volcano which, at 2,745 metres, is taller than mainland Australia’s largest mountain, Kosciuszko.

Macquarie Island – A jewel in the crown of the Southern Ocean

Macquarie Island | Konrad Wothe

Macquarie Island with its steep escarpments and lush vegetation is a wildlife wonderland lying 1,500 km off Tasmania and halfway to Antarctica.

The island and its waters provide a critical feeding and breeding ground for a remarkable array of Antarctic wildlife, including whales, elephant seals, fur seals and 3.5 million seabirds, including four types of albatross and penguin. 

It’s the only home in the world for the royal penguin and the Macquarie Shag.

Macquarie Island is also a geological marvel – the only place formed entirely of oceanic crust, where rocks from deep below the Earth’s surface have been thrust above the sea.

The Southern Ocean – regulator of the world’s climate

The Southern Ocean is critical to stabilising our climate and circulating vital nutrients that sustain fish populations across the world. 

From the food we eat, to our daily weather and global climate, we all rely on the icy southern foundation of our planet. 

The Southern Ocean drives currents around the world, supports the krill which underpins Antarctic marine life and is our planet’s biggest carbon sink. 

Commerson Dolphin in the rough Southern Ocean
Krill fishing vessel in Antarctica

But temperatures and the rate of ice loss are rising. Industrial fisheries are damaging areas of high biodiversity and food chains. Marine sanctuaries help build resilience and protect marine life in the face of these threats. 

Global progress on establishing a network of Antarctic marine sanctuaries has stalled. That means, more than ever, Australia must take decisive action in our own Sub-Antarctic backyard. 

Albatross | Matt Curnock

A rare opportunity to act

With the management of Australia’s Sub-Antarctic marine parks now up for review, we have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to increase protection for some of the most unique and important environments on the planet. 

History shows that unless precious environments such as these have strong protections in place, they fall victim to threats such as over-fishing and sea-bed mining. 

Help us secure strong protection for our remarkable, yet vulnerable, Sub-Antarctic marine life! 

Thanks to the actions of thousands of concerned Australians, on 1st July 2023 the Albanese Government tripled the size of Macquarie Island Marine Park with an amazing 93 percent declared a fully protected marine sanctuary – that’s an area bigger than Germany!

But there’s still work to do – ensuring the effective management of this park and securing strong marine protection for Heard and the McDonald Islands.  

Highlights from our Macquarie campaign

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Top image credit: Jamie Van Jones

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Protect Australia’s World Heritage Macquarie Island

Join us in letting the Government know you support large and highly protected sanctuaries for Macquarie Island and its unique marine life!
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We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.