The Australian government intends to designate a marine reserve in the Southern Ocean the size of Germany, bolstering protections for millions of penguins and seals near Macquarie Island.
Tanya Plibersek, the environment minister, stated that the government intends to increase the extent of the Macquarie Island marine park, calling it a “globally significant contribution to marine conservation” that would place 388,000 square kilometers under strict protection.
Macquarie Island Marine Park
“Macquarie Island Marine Park is a remote wildlife wonderland – a critical habitat for millions of seabirds, seals, and penguins,” Plibersek said. “Expanding and increasing the protection of the waters surrounding Macquarie Island will allow us to better manage this important ecosystem for the future.”
The island between Tasmania and Antarctica is a vital place for seabirds, penguins, and seals to eat and raise their young.
The 34-kilometer-long strip of land and the waters around it are home to animals like royal penguins, southern rockhopper penguins, subantarctic fur seals, southern elephant seals, black-browed albatrosses, and grey petrels.
The proposal will be open for public comment, and the government claims it will allow the small Patagonian toothfish fishery to continue.
According to Plibersek, expanding the marine park will increase the protected territory in Australia’s oceans to 48.2 percent.
Conservationists applauded the announcement, with Antarctic conservation manager at WWF-Australia Emily Grilly saying, “If approved, it will provide a refuge to help the island’s iconic species adapt to the changing climate.”