The Australian government plans to make an area about the size of Germany in the Southern Ocean a marine zone, strengthening protections around Macquarie Island for millions of penguins and seals.
The environment minister, , announced that the government wants to triple the size of the Macquarie Island marine park, describing it as a globally significant contribution to marine conservation that would put 388,000 sq km under high protection.
“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 government will open the proposal for public consultation and says the plan will allow for the continuation of the small Patagonian toothfish fishery.
Plibersek said the expansion of the marine park would increase the amount of protected area in Australia’s oceans to 48.2%.
The announcement was welcomed by conservationists: “If approved it will provide a refuge to help the island’s iconic species adapt to the changing climate,’” said Emily Grilly, the Antarctic conservation manager at WWF-Australia.