All visits to the Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) Marine Reserve must comply with the provisions of the legislation and management plan for the Reserve. The table below summarises the key requirements, but all persons proposing to visit Heard Island will be required to understand and comply with all relevant requirements and contact should be made with the Australian Antarctic Division as early as possible in the planning process.

Key Requirements

Unless otherwise authorised by the Australian Antarctic Division, the following measures apply to all visits to Heard Island.


Relevant section(s) in management plan

Environmental approvals


A permit issued under the Environment Protection and Management Ordinance 1987 is required to enter* and undertake activities in the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands. Before the Australian Antarctic Division will issue a permit, the proponent must prepare a written report detailing the environmental impacts that the proposed activity would be likely to have on the environment^.

4.1 - 4.3

Access and management of activities at Heard Island


Vessels entering the Territory (other than in innocent passage) must have a valid deratting certificate or deratting exemption certificate and must travel direct from an Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) controlled port.


The comprehensive pre-departure and other requirements for preventing the introduction of species and disease outlined in the management plan must be strictly adhered to.


No ballast water may be discharged within the 12 nautical mile territorial sea. Other vessel wastes must be managed in accordance with the provisions detailed in the management plan.

6.3.16 - 6.3.19

Aircraft, vehicles and vessels must be operated in a way that prevents or minimises environmental damage (and must be authorised under a permit).

5.1.3, 5.1.4

To minimise bird strikes at night, vessels must only use the minimum lights reasonably necessary for safety.


Landings may occur only be made in the Main Use Zone or Visitor Access Zone on Heard Island.

3.2(a) & (b), 5.1.7

All visitors going ashore must be suitably briefed on safety requirements and are appropriately clothed and shod. All shore parties must take sufficient emergency equipment and supplies to shelter and sustain the maximum number of people ashore at any one time.

5.3.6, 9.4.4

Shore parties must be capable of maintaining two-way communication with the vessel providing support.


Access on land is limited to foot travel within the Visitor Access Zone, Main Use Zone and Heritage Zone.


The maximum number of persons ashore that may go ashore are: 60 at the Atlas Cove Main Use Zone / Visitor Access Zone; 30 at the Spit Bay Main Use Zone / Visitor Access Zone; 30 at the Long Beach Visitor Access Zone. Individual group sizes must not exceed 15.


Activities on shore on Heard Island must be consistent with the Environmental Code of Conduct for Visitors to Heard Island. All members of the visiting group must be provided with a copy of the Code and be aware of their individual responsibilities.

5.3.5, Appendix 14

Overnight stays on Heard Island are not allowed.


No buildings or other structures may be erected.


All wastes generated on land (including human wastes) must be securely stored during the visit and removed on departure.


Food must be secured and contained at all times to prevent dispersal or foraging by wildlife.



A written report on each visit must be provided within 60 days.


* No permit is required to traverse the 12 nautical mile territorial sea in "innocent passage" (see section 5.1.8).

^ Depending on the activity proposed, it may also be necessary to obtain an environmental approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (see section 4. Environmental Assessment and Approval).

"environmental damage" includes disturbance of wildlife, damage to vegetation, burrows, wallows, nesting areas and wildlife corridors, wetlands, waterbodies and catchments, sensitive geological features, research sites and cultural heritage sites.