The Australian government has announced plans to expand the area of the Macquarie Island Marine Park in efforts to support and conserve marine life habitats.
Under the scheme the Macquarie Island Marine Park will be tripled in size to an area approximately as large as the landmass of Germany by adding 388,000 square kilometres to its current size.
In a press release the Australian Government said the “proposed expansion would bring our marine parks to 48.2 per cent of Australian oceans” and would constitute “a globally significant contribution to marine conservation.”
Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek said the move is an “important contribution to our commitment to protect 30 per cent of our land and 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030”.
The minister added that she encouraged anyone who “cares deeply” about the future of Australia’s oceans and of the “industries and activities that rely on their health” to put forward their own input into the proposal.
The area which is located in the Southern Ocean off Australia is home to various forms of marine life as well as numerous species of birds such as royal penguins, southern rockhopper penguins, subantarctic fur seals, southern elephant seals, black-browed albatrosses and grey petrels.
Opponents have described the proposal as an ‘ocean grab’ with Seafood Industry Australia CEO, Veronica Papacosta, saying the move has “no basis in science” and is “funded by international activists”.
Papacosta added that “The redesign of the park represents a serious overreach by the Minister that will send shockwaves through the Australian communities and regions who rely on marine estates for employment, tourism and recreation,”.
The Government says that it is “committed to undertaking the statutory reviews of marine parks in a consultative way” and that “any changes to marine park management” will be “based on science and stakeholder input”.