The Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) Marine Reserve Management Plan divides the Marine Reserve into seven zones, each of which is assigned to the IUCN category 'strict nature reserve'.

These zones are intended to facilitate protection of areas or features that are susceptible to the impacts of human activities, and to confine human activity to sites that can sustain it.

The level and type of protection varies for each zone, with activities in the Reserve being restricted to the most appropriate areas and managed to give effect to the strict nature reserve management principles outlined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 (EPBC Regulations).

The zones include