Call for increased protection of Australia’s Heard and McDonald Islands Marine Park as its management plan comes up for review



Save Our Marine Life is an environmental advocacy alliance of 27 conservation groups working to protect Australia’s marine life and way of life.  It has recently called for increased protection for the Australia’s Heard and McDonald Islands Marine Park as its 2014-2024 management plan comes up for review.

The alliance writes: “Very soon Australia’s Heard and McDonald Islands Marine Park will be up for review, giving us a once-in-a-decade opportunity to increase protection for this spectacular marine treasure.  The 10-year review of Heard and McDonald Islands marine park management plan is due to be finalised in 2024, providing a window of opportunity to put in place stronger protections.”  The alliance is calling to maximise marine sanctuary protection within the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone around the island group, noting that “despite the unique and rich conservation values of these globally recognised islands, only small sections of the waters surrounding Heard and McDonald Islands are fully protected.  The marine parks established in 2002 and 2014 did an excellent job of identifying some high conservation value areas for marine sanctuary protection, but given subsequent scientific research revealing the depth of their biological value and the impact of climate change they now need updating to maintain their world leading status.”

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A view of Heard Island, photograph by Barbara Wienecke

The Australian Marine Conservation Society, a member of the Save Our Marine Life alliance, has published a report that considers the conservation status of the waters surrounding the Heard and McDonald Islands.  The society states that the report finds the island group is “under-protected in the face of encroaching threats from climate change and industrial fishing.

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A view of McDonald Island, photograph by Philip Moors

Heard and McDonald Islands, including their territorial waters (0–12 nautical miles), are a World Heritage Natural Site, proclaimed in 1997.

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A Black-browed Albatross feeds its chick on Heard Island, photograph by Roger Kirkwood

ACAP Latest News will continue to report on the management plan review, noting that it comes in the year that  ACAP has chosen “Marine Protected Areas - Safeguarding our Oceans” as its theme for the fifth World Albatross Day, to be celebrated on 19 June 2024.


Commonwealth of Australia 2014.  Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve Management Plan 2014-2024.  Canberra: Department of the Environment.  92 pp.

Constable, A.J., Cresswell, I.D., Bax, N.J. & Reid, K. 2024.  Understanding the Marine Ecosystems surrounding Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) and their Conservation Status.  The Australian Marine Conservation Society.  141 pp.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 16 May 2024

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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