Cool fact…
Genetic studies of the different populations of Poa annua are currently in progress and may provide insights into the origin and spread of the species on the island.

Marine reserve

Aerial shot of Heard Island and Elephant Spit.
Heard Island - Elephant Spit (Photo: Gary Miller)
The Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) Marine Reserve was established in October 2002.

The Reserve is a Commonwealth reserve, declared under section 344 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).

The Reserve was expanded on 28 March 2014 following a comprehensive scientific assessment of the region’s conservation values and extensive consultation with key stakeholders. 

Click on the following links for a description and maps showing the location and boundaries of the Reserve, and for a description of the conservation significance of the Reserve.

Purpose and Management Objectives

The Reserve was declared by Proclamation for the purpose of ‘protecting the conservation values of Heard Island and McDonald Islands and the adjacent unique and vulnerable marine ecosystems’.

The management objectives for the Reserve outlined in the Reserve proposal were to:

  • protect conservation values of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI), the territorial sea and the adjacent EEZ including:
    • the World Heritage and cultural values of the HIMI Territory;
    • the unique features of the benthic and pelagic environments;
    • representative portions of the different marine habitat types; and
    • marine areas used by land-based marine predators for local foraging activities.
  • provide an effective conservation framework which will contribute to the integrated and ecologically sustainable management of the HIMI region as a whole;
  • provide a scientific reference area for the study of ecosystem function within the HIMI region; and
  • add representative examples of the HIMI EEZ to the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.

The management plan for the Reserve lapsed in August 2012. Interim management arrangements subsequently commenced and the Reserve is being managed in accordance with IUCN Category 1a Strict Nature Reserve principles. It is the Australian Antarctic Division's objective to finalise and implement the new HIMI Marine Reserve Management Plan as soon as possible. (March 2014)

This page was last modified on 23 March 2010.