Australia plans to create a gigantic marine park around remote islands off its southeast coast, the government announced on Sunday (June 4th). The project aims to triple the area of the Macquarie Island Marine Park, which would bring the total area of the protected area to 475,465 km2, an area close to that of Spain.
These protective measures mean that the area will be “totally closed to fishing, mining and other extractive activities”, according to Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek. Existing fishing operations targeting Patagonian toothfish, a carnivorous fish, may nevertheless continue. Macquarie Island sits halfway between Australia and Antarctica and is home to king penguins, fur seals and a subantarctic science centre.
“Macquarie Island is an exceptional place. It is a marvel for fauna and flora, an essential breeding ground for millions of seabirds, seals and penguins”, highlighted the Minister. Environmental groups support the initiative, fearing the area could become the target of seabed mining and unsustainable commercial fishing.