The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) announced Tuesday it will shut down its facility on Macquarie Island, which is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean — about halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica.
The government agency, which has operated the research station on the island since 1948, will close the base by the end of March 2017. According to AAD, an independent engineering investigation suggested growing safety, environmental and ocean inundation risks on the island.
“Withdrawal of a permanent presence will be a further step towards minimizing human impacts on the island,” AAD said. “This follows the successful Macquarie Island pest eradication program which removed all introduced animals [cats, rabbits, rats and mice].”
A team is likely to be sent to Macquarie Island to begin dismantling the facility in November.
“All essential equipment and dangerous goods, including station fuel, will be removed by ship, and the buildings secured and closed down,” AAD director Nick Gales reportedly said, adding there would still be “opportunities to conduct high priority research” through a network of six field huts and extended ship visits.
Gales added that AAD will concentrate on its operations in Antarctica where Australia has three bases.
Macquarie Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is a part of the Australian state of Tasmania, which overlooks and protects the island as a wildlife reserve.