Male weedy seadragon
Male weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) (photograph: John Smith)

Marine Conservation Areas

Find out more

​​​These Marine Conservation Areas (MCAs) are part of the Bruny bioregion.  The Bruny bioregion has a low tidal range and a strongly dissected coastline with extensive bays protected from swell by islands and peninsulas. It has the highest level of marine endemism in Tasmania and supports many distinctive reef and soft-sediment fish fauna.

The area was proclaimed a conservation area under the Nature Conservation Act 2002 on 9 December, 2009. This reserve class provides for the protection and maintenance of the natural and cultural values of the area and the sustainable use of natural resources. 

Fishing is permitted in MCAs.  Please see the Recreation Sea Fishing Guide for further information.  

Blackman Rivulet 

The Blackman Rivulet MCA covers an area within Blackman Rivulet and Blackman Bay in the north of the Tasman Peninsula.  The reserve contains sheltered marine inlet sediment ecosystems and diverse seagrass and algal vegetation. The area features dense seagrass and seaweed beds which include Heterozostera and Ruppia macrophyte types. Seagrass is a relatively rare habitat within the Bruny bioregion and a large proportion of it is located in the Blackman Bay area.

Central Channel 

The Central Channel MCA lies within the D'Entrecasteaux Channel between mainland Tasmania and South Bruny Island.  The area has a rich diversity of seaweeds and seagrasses, as well as sediment and current communities.  The reserve has habitats for several threatened species, including the seastar, Gunns screw shell, live-bearing seastar and the spotted handfish.

Cloudy Bay 

The Cloudy Bay MCA is located in the Cloudy Bay Lagoon in the south of Bruny Island.  The area incorporates the Cloudy Bay Lagoon inlet system which contains seagrass and shallow sediment microalgae.

Hippolyte Rocks

The Hippolyte Rocks MCA surrounds the Hippolyte Rocks off the east coast of the Tasman Peninsula in the vicinity of Cape Hauy.  The Hippolyte Rocks contains a large seal haulout which provides a hunting ground for the vulnerable great white shark.  The abundant marine life in the area sustains significant breeding populations of short-tailed shearwaters, fairy prions, common diving-petrels and black-faced cormorants. The area is also significant for migratory birds and seabirds including albatrosses and petrels, and contains feeding grounds for Australasian gannets, white-bellied sea eagles, and little penguins.

Huon Estuary

The Huon Estuary MCA covers the area between the Huonville Bridge in the north and Glaziers Bay in the south. The reserve is a near pristine estuary habitat of high ecological importance. The area contains important migration habitat for the vulnerable Australian grayling, and also provides a feeding, breeding and rest area for whitebait, and a nursery and refuge area for sharks.

​Monk Bay

Located in Norfolk Bay off the central northern region of the Tasman Peninsula between Whitehouse Point and Ironstone Bay, Monk Bay MCA houses significant offshore areas of highly productive seagrass, seaweed and soft, silty benthic habitats.  These seagrass ecosystems have a high biodiversity and play an important role in a range of nutrient cycling processes as well as providing a nursery habitat and refuge for crustaceans, molluscs, fish, sharks, stingrays and rays.

​Opossu​​m Bay

Located southeast of the River Derwent between Gellibrand Point and Johns Point, the Opossum Bay MCA contains a mixture of sand beaches and rocky reefs with kelp beds and associated reef and sandy sediment ecosystems.  The primary objective of the reserve is the protection of habitat for the spotted ​handfish, an unusual bottom-dwelling fish that pref​ers to “walk” on its pectoral and pelvic fins rather than swim.

​Port Cygnet 

The Port Cygnet MCA lies within Port Cygnet in the vicinity of Cygnet.  The reserve contains an open estuary environment and includes a listed wetland of state significance. The reserve is significant as a refuge area for numerous bird species including migratory birds such as Latham's snipe, the great egret and the crested tern.  The wetland harbours species such as the pied oystercatcher and white-bellied sea eagle, which regularly feed in the area. The area is also a nursery and refuge area for sharks.  Port Cygnet was first proclaimed as a wildlife sanctuary in 1952 for the protection of the foreshore and wetlands.

River Derwen​t 

The River Derwent MCA lies between New Norfolk in the west and Dogshear Point in the east.  The reserve area contains habitat for a number of threatened species, including the seastar, and the Australian grayling. The reserve provides habitat for migratory wading birds, black swans, native ducks, crabs, pippis, platypus, frogs, snakes, fish, and a diversity of invertebrates. The area also contains important habitat including feeding, breeding and rest areas for whitebait and sharks.

The reserve area in the River Derwent was first proclaimed a "sanctuary with respect to black swans" on 4 March 1920 under the Animals and Birds Protection Act 1919. In 1941 the original proclamation was revoked and replaced with a new proclamation under the Animals and Birds Protection Act 1928 declaring the area a "sanctuary for birds generally". The motivation for changing the proclamation was to protect all birds in the reserve particularly native ducks which were being hunted in the reserve.

Roberts Point

The Roberts Point MCA surrounds Roberts Point on the western side of North Bruny Island in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.  The strong current and low ambient light provide and habitat for a range of sediment communities and invertebrate life not usually found elsewhere.

Simpsons Point 

The Simpsons Point MCA surrounds Simpsons Point on the northern tip of South Bruny Island in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.  The relatively dark and cold water currents have created an array of unique habitats and invertebrate communities normally found in deeper waters.  These reef habitats support seawhip beds, sponges, spiny pipehorses, Tasmanian numbfish, ringed puffer fish and the rare and endemic seastar.

Sloping Island

The Sloping Island MCA surrounds Sloping Island off the northwest of the Tasman Peninsula. The reserve contains important habitat for threatened species including the spotted handfish and the red handfish. The area also contains a high diversity of invertebrate life, a small bed of giant string kelp and a shark refuge area.  Sloping Island supports large breeding populations of little penguins and short-tailed shearwaters.

South Arm 

The South Arm MCA lies within Ralphs Bay in the vicinity of South Arm.  The reserve contains a large area of tidal sand flats which support an inter-tidal ecosystem with associated shallow sediments, microalgae and invertebrates. The area also provides important habitat for shorebirds that feed along the shoreline and tidal flats, including sandpipers and species such as pied oystercatchers and red-capped plovers. The area has high conservation significance for migratory shorebirds such as the eastern curlew - listed as endangered under State legislation.  The large expanses of tidal sand flats within the reserve are a significant conservation value and are listed as a Tasmanian geoconservation site, known as Ralphs Bay Tidal Flat.  The conservation values of the tidal flats at South Arm have long been recognised with the area having first been reserved as a wildlife sanctuary in 1991 to protect wading birds.

Waterfall–Fortescue 

The Waterfall – Fortescue MCA covers the waters between Waterfall Bay in the north and Fortescue Bay in the south.​   Rocky reef habitats in the reserve support a diversity and abundance of species, including banded morwong, long snouted boarfish, bastard trumpeter, real bastard trumpeter, butterfly perch, striped trumpeter, weedy sea dragon, and a small population of the threatened live-bearing sea star. 

These habitats also support some of the most persistent and important forests of iconic giant string kelp in the Bruny bioregion. There are also beds of bull kelp, interesting red algal species and populations of southern rock lobster and blacklip abalone.