Australia to quadruple size of Southern Ocean marine park-Xinhua

Australia to quadruple size of Southern Ocean marine park

Source: Xinhua| 2024-07-05 09:49:15|Editor: huaxia

CANBERRA, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has revealed plans for a major expansion of a protected subantarctic marine park.

Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, on Friday announced a government proposal to expand the size of the protected Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve in the Southern Ocean by over 300,000 square kilometers (km).

The proposal would more than quadruple the size of the reserve, which currently encompasses 71,000 square km, and increase the proportion of Australia's oceans that are covered by protected marine parks to over 50 percent.

Plibersek said in a statement that the expansion of the marine park would help protect globally significant habitat for endangered seabirds and seals.

"There are so few places on earth that can be described as pure, pristine wilderness. Heard and McDonald Islands is such a place," she said.

"Quadrupling the size of the Heard and McDonald Islands marine park would protect more of our oceans around the island and seals, albatross and whales, that call these oceans home."

The islands, which are located approximately 4,000 km south-west of Australia and 1,700 km north of Antarctica, became a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site in 1997 and are home to Australia's only two active volcanoes.

Fishing, mining and other extraction activities are restricted in Australian marine parks, but the proposed expansion would allow for the continuation of the sustainable fishing of mackerel icefish and Patagonian toothfish in the area.

A public consultation on the proposal will run until September 5 at which point the government will finalize the boundaries of the expanded reserve.