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Sunday, June 20, 1999 Published at 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Australia to create Antarctic marine park

Australia is moving to protect the Antarctic environment

The biggest marine park in the world is to be created in Australian Antarctic territory to protect a seal colony and threatened birds.

The Australian Government announced the 16m hectare park to be developed around Macquarie Island, 1,500 km southeast of Tasmania, on Sunday.

[ image: The planned park is an important breeding ground]
The planned park is an important breeding ground
The sea around Macquarie Island is an important breeding ground for sub-Antarctic fur seals, southern elephant seals, royal penguins, rockhopper penguins and five species of albatross.

Although the wildlife is not currently threatened, animals face increasing hazards such as oil spills, chemical contaminates, entanglement in nets and disturbance by aircraft and boats.

Australian Environment Minister Robert Hill said one-third of the park would be strictly off limits to fishing and mining.

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