A new state-of-the-art Australian Antarctic Division cargo and quarantine hub opened on Hobart’s waterfront today, aims to banish bugs, rats and other ‘alien’ hitch-hikers from boarding ships travelling south.

The federally funded 2.5 million dollar facility is located at the eastern end of the re-developed Macquarie Wharf 2 shed.

It has vermin traps, impenetrable walls and automatic shutter doors to reduce the risk of introduced species reaching the fragile Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environments.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said it’s a significant improvement in bio-security.

“In 1991 the Hawke Labor Government decided that the Antarctic would be the one continent on earth that was kept as a pristine wilderness dedicated to science and peace,” Mr Burke said.

“These quarantine facilities are about making sure that the pristine Antarctic stays that way.”

The Director of the Division, Dr Tony Fleming, said Australia is really committed to ensuring we have a minimal impact on the environment at our Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations

“This new facility will improve the efficiency of our screening, processing and management of all cargo and equipment to help prevent the introduction of non-native animals or plant species,” Dr Fleming said.

The cargo and quarantine centre also has a cold and cool store, fumigation area, briefing rooms, and warehousing space.

“This development further cements Tasmania’s status as a dedicated gateway to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean,” he said.

Tasports has spent 7 million dollars redeveloping the Macquarie Wharf 2 building into an Antarctic and Cruise ship precinct.

“The cruise terminal will provide a spacious and comfortable area for Expeditioners and their families to farewell or welcome home their loved ones, as well as providing easier access to Antarctic ships,” Dr Fleming said.

The Antarctic Division will move into the cargo and quarantine facility in May and begin operating from there in time for the first voyage of the season in September.

The Division’s cargo operations have been run out of Macquarie Wharf 4 for more than 12 years.