An alliance of 27 leading environment groups has welcomed the Albanese Government’s decision to expand and upgrade the marine park around Australia’s Macquarie Island, saying it is a massive win for the region’s globally significant marine life.
“Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is delivering world-leading protection for one of the most unique environments on the planet,” said Fiona Maxwell, National Oceans Manager for The Pew Charitable Trusts.
“This World Heritage-listed island, halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica, is teeming with wildlife, including albatross, seals, whales and penguins. Some species, such as the royal penguin, are found nowhere else on Earth.
“By almost tripling the size of the marine park and making around 93% of the park a fully protected marine sanctuary, Australia has given Macquarie’s wildlife the best possible chance to survive and thrive into the future,” Ms Maxwell said.
The government released its draft plan to expand marine protection around Macquarie Island in February. Today’s announcement comes after months of public and stakeholder consultation, which included more than 14,000 submissions in support of the proposal. The new park will cover an area more than double the size of Victoria.
“The Albanese Government has got the balance right – giving Macquarie Island’s marine life the protection it deserves, while accommodating the small footprint of the existing, relatively well-managed and sustainable commercial Patagonian toothfish fishery,” Ms Maxwell said.
Tim Jarvis AM, Save Our Marine Life Ambassador said: “A wonderful result for ocean conservation. This incredible place, halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica, provides a window into what ecosystems could be like if we left them alone – and it’s our responsibility to ensure it stays that way. This window presented an opportunity, and I congratulate the government on taking it.”
Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said: “It’s nearly a quarter of a century since Australia established what was then a world-leading Commonwealth marine park off Macquarie’s south-east. Now, the Australian Government is again demonstrating global leadership.
“The expansion and upgrade of Macquarie Island Marine Park is a major contribution towards international efforts to conserve the Southern Ocean.
“Across the Southern Ocean, temperatures are rising and the rate of ice loss has tripled. Industrial fisheries are damaging areas of high biodiversity and food chains, and the ocean’s rich wildlife is struggling to adapt to these rapid changes.
“Sanctuaries are vital for marine wildlife, healthy ocean ecosystems and sustainable commercial fisheries. Strong sanctuary protection will help this unique Sub-Antarctic marine environment build resilience in the face of these growing threats, and will also help to future proof this globally significant wildlife hotspot from threats such as seabed mining.”
The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Australian Marine Conservation Society lead the Save Our Marine Life alliance.