By Tanya Plibersek

05 July 2024



Friday 5 July 2024

Heard Island and McDonalds Island Marine Park poised to quadruple in size

The Albanese Government is proposing to more than quadruple the protected oceans around Australia’s Heard and McDonald Islands.

Heard Island and McDonald Islands are remote subantarctic islands located around 4,000km southwest of Western Australia and 1,700km north of Antarctica. They are World Heritage listed and are home to penguins, seals, whales and albatross.

This is another huge win for ocean protection. The proposal recommends expanding this marine reserve by over 300,000 km2 – an area larger than Italy and almost 90% of Australian territory around the islands. This proposal would increase Australia’s marine protected areas to more than half of Australian oceans.

The proposed expansion would extend protections over important marine environments, and help protect globally significant habitat for endangered seabirds and seals.

The proposed expansion also allows for the continuation of the sustainable fishing industry at Heard and McDonald Islands.

In the Budget, the Government committed an extra $17.6 million for targeted marine science and environmental management voyages in the Southern Ocean, including a planned management visit to Heard Island and McDonald Islands in 2025-26.


Statutory consultation on the proposal to expand Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve starts today and closes on Thursday 5 September 2024.


Last year the Albanese Government tripled the size of Macquarie Island Marine Park – another sub-Antarctic wildlife wonderland. This was the largest contribution to ocean conservation anywhere in the world in 2023.


The Government is also progressing ratification of the High Seas Biodiversity Treaty as part of our global commitment to better protect the world’s oceans. The Treaty, tabled in the Parliament last week, will help to establish marine protected areas on the high seas, which will complement Australia’s own network of domestic marine parks.


 Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek:

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

“Nature thrives there without us.  It’s free from feral species and has had minimal human intervention. Not only do the islands contain Australia's only two active volcanoes, but huge populations of marine birds and mammals numbering in the millions.

“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.

“This proposal would mean protecting additional oceans the size of Italy and bring half of Australian oceans under protection, while allowing the sustainable fishing industry to continue.

“This is a unique and extraordinary part of our planet, we have to do everything we can to protect it.”

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