The Australian government revealed its plan on Sunday to establish a marine park in the southeast region of the country, covering an area almost equivalent to the size of Spain.
The proposal aims to expand the existing Macquarie Island Marine Park and increase the protected area to a total of 475,465 square kilometres (183,578 square miles).
This vast expanse of protected waters will be larger than Vietnam or Japan and roughly the same size as Spain or Cameroon. The enhanced protections will ensure that the marine park becomes a restricted zone, prohibiting activities such as fishing, mining, and other extractive practices, announced Tanya Plibersek, the Minister of Environment in Australia. However, existing fishing operations that target the Patagonian toothfish will be permitted to continue.
Located halfway between Australia and Antarctica, Macquarie Island is known for its diverse ecosystem, which includes royal penguins, fur seals, and a subantarctic science hub. It serves as a critical breeding ground for millions of seabirds, seals, and penguins. Minister Plibersek referred to Macquarie Island as an extraordinary place, describing it as a remote wildlife wonderland.
The plan to expand the marine park has received support from various environmental groups. They have expressed concerns about potential threats to the region, such as seabed mining and unsustainable commercial fishing. By establishing the marine park, Australia aims to safeguard the biodiversity and ecological integrity of this unique and important marine environment.
The decision to expand the Macquarie Island Marine Park aligns with the country’s commitment to the conservation and sustainable management of its marine resources. Australia recognises the significance of protecting fragile ecosystems and preserving marine habitats for the benefit of present and future generations. The establishment of this expansive marine park reflects the country’s dedication to responsible stewardship of its natural heritage.
The Australian government’s initiative to create this large marine park is a proactive step towards protecting and preserving the rich biodiversity and ecological value of the region, ensuring its sustainability for years to come.