Macquarie Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve

Macquarie Island and the surrounding region have unique geological characteristics. The island's orientation and the submerged Macquarie Ridge together act as a major barrier to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, Earth's largest and most important oceanic current.

The Macquarie Island region is important for seabirds and seals that breed on the island and forage in the reserve. The reserve includes two habitat protection zones that were established to protect the habitat of seabirds and seals, and the benthic and pelagic fauna that depend on the area. The northern habitat protection zone includes a foraging area for fur seals (New Zealand, antarctic and subantarctic fur seals). The southern habitat protection zone includes foraging area for penguins during the breeding season, and it is used by many penguin species to transit to and from more southerly waters.

A number of species found in the Macquarie Island region, including five albatross species, four penguin species and two seal species, are under local or global threat, and because most of these species require extremely large migratory or foraging ranges, protection of their critical feeding and migratory areas has international significance.

Although the timing of many species seasonal occupation of the region and their behaviour while onshore are well documented, the behaviour of these animals while in the marine environment or outside breeding seasons requires further research.

The Macquarie Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a portion of the Macquarie Island World Heritage Area, which extends from the shore to 12 nm and, accordingly, the Commonwealth has jurisdiction over waters from 3-12 nm.

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Macquarie Island area and zoning. View more...

Overview of of Macquarie Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve
Area 162 000 km2 (16 200 000 ha)
Types of zoning Sanctuary Zone - IUCN Category Ia (58 000 km2)
Habitat Protection zones - IUCN Category IV - Northern (27 000 km2) and Southern (77 000 km2)

Macquarie Island major conservation values. View more...

Elephant seals and gentoo penguins, B Watkins, Australian Antarctic Division

Elephant seals and gentoo penguins, Australian Antarctic Division

  • Examples of ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the Macquarie Province and associated with the sea-floor features: abyssal plain/deep ocean floor, canyon, escarpment, knoll/abyssal hill, ridge, slope and trench/trough
  • Important foraging area for: killer whale, southern elephant seal, Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and New Zealand fur seals, royal, king, rockhopper and gentoo penguin and wandering albatross

Macquarie Island management arrangements. View more...

All fourteen reserves in the South-east are managed under the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network Management Plan 2013-23. This Management Plan sets out the zoning, allowable activities and rules for use within South-east marine reserves until 2023.

Macquarie Island map. View more...

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Map of the Macquarie Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve - Click to enlarge map

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View the other reserves in the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network