What’s happening on Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island, first declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1933, was declared a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and became a Tasmanian Nature Reserve in 1978 (extended in 2000 to include surrounding inshore marine waters). It was listed on the National Estate register in 1980 and in 1997 became a World Heritage property. Nomination as a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance is currently in preparation. The 16.2 million hectare Commonwealth Marine Park around the island, declared in 1999, is the largest marine protected area in the world.

The Parks and Wildlife Service of the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment manages Macquarie Island Nature Reserve and World Heritage Area, while Macquarie Island Marine Park is managed by the Australian Federal Government.

Past, present and potential human activities on the island and its surrounding marine environment are the primary sources of pressure on the conservation values of the reserve. These include research and research support, tourism, fishing and shipping. Introduced pests, both vertebrate (cats, rabbits, rats, mice) and invertebrate, have had a significant impact on the ecological values of the reserve through their own activities and through the human efforts to control or eradicate them.

Main issues for a new management plan to replace that of 1991, to cover the entire Macquarie Island Nature Reserve and World Heritage Area, include cooperative management regimes for the ANARE research station and the marine protected areas, threatened species conservation, and management of human impact and tourism. The future of the ANARE research station and ongoing Australian Antarctic Division support of research and management activities is a major factor affecting long-term programs in data gathering and pest management.

Leslie Frost
Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service