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Location Australia, Tasmania
Central coordinates 146o 20.91' East  43o 36.41' South
IBA criteria A4i, A4ii
Area 901 ha
Altitude 0 - 354m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The Maatsuyker Island Group supports more than 1% of the world population of Short-tailed Shearwater (about 1.5 million pairs), Fairy Prion and Black-faced Cormorant, as well as thousands of pairs of Common Diving-Petrel and Little Penguin.

Site description This IBA consists of the whole Maatsuyker group of islands, which about 10 km off Red Point in Southwest National Park, Tasmania. The IBA includes De Witt Island, Maatsuyker Island, Ile du Golfe, Hen Island, Flat Top Island, Round Top Island, Louisa Island, Walker Island, Flat Witch Island and Needle Rocks, but excludes Chicken Island. The islands selected for inclusion are largely undisturbed rocky islands with natural vegetation which varies from grass through forbs and ferns to Leptospermum-dominated scrub and eucalypt woodlands, depending on the degree of exposure: De Witt Island (515 ha, densely wooded with a 354 m summit), Maatsuyker Island itself (186 ha, well-known for its lighthouse and meteorology station, a Leptospermum-dominated island with weeds and other remnants of previous occupation and a 278m summit), Ile du Golfe (68 ha, scrubby limestone ridge), Hen (8 ha, pristine island), Flat Top (1.6 ha, with a short herby plateau surrounded by cliffs), Round Top (6 ha, pristine steep rocky island), Louisa (23 ha, wooded island separated from mainland by 250 m sand spit), Walker (15 ha, with stunted scrub) and Flat Witch (64 ha, shrubby) Islands and Needle Rocks (a series of rocks off Maatsuyker, five with birds, totalling 10 ha).

Key Biodiversity More than 50 species have been recorded in the island group including thousands of pairs of Common Diving-Petrel (8660 pairs estimated on Round Top, 1000 pairs estimated on Flat Top), 2900 pairs of Little Penguin, 17 pairs of Pacific Gull, 10 pairs of Sooty Oystercatcher and five pairs of Hooded Plover at Louisa Island (White 1981) and probably many more across the IBA; Swift Parrot and Wedge-tailed Eagle have been recorded at De Witt Island; Peregrine Falcon at Ile du Golfe, De Witt and Maatsuyker Islands; and Orange-bellied Parrot and Grey Goshawk at Maatsuyker Island. Lewin's Rail was commonly heard by White (1981) at Louisa Island in 1977, and there are records from Maatsuyker and Flat Witch Islands. At least six pairs of Soft-plumaged Petrel at Maatsuyker Island, and possibly overlooked on other islands are possibly the critically endangered subspecies deceptornis; this species otherwise only occurs within Australia on Macquarie Island. Very small numbers of Sooty Shearwater nest amongst the Short-tailed Shearwater. Five pairs of Hooded Plover were reported on Louisa Island by White (1981). Strong-billed Honeyeater was common on De Witt Island in 1977 (White 1981).

Non-bird biodiversity: Metallic Skink, Three-lined Skink, Tasmanian Tree Skink, Long-nosed Potoroo, Tasmanian Pademelon, Swamp Rat. More than 2000 Australian Fur Seals, mostly at Walker and Maatsuyker Islands and Needle Rocks; 130-140 New Zealand Fur Seal pups and small numbers of Southern Elephant Seal annually at Maatsuyker Island. Eastern Pygmy Possums on Little Witch and De Witt Islands. New Zealand Fur Seals breed on Little Witch. De Witt Island is dominated by eucalypt forest, and White (1981a) recorded 56 plant species despite deliberate burning of bird rookeries by fishermen.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur resident  51,000-356,400 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris resident  1,467,760-1,821,166 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Black-faced Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscescens resident  1985  312 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 low not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Southwest National Park 618,267 protected area contains site 901  
Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site 1,407,513 protected area contains site 901  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets  major
Forest Eucalypt open forests  major
Grassland Tussock grasslands  minor
Shrubland Closed shrublands & low closed woodlands  major

Land ownership Tasmanian State Government

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%

Protection status Small part of the very large Southwest National Park (World Heritage Area).

Access/Land-Owner requests Access is discouraged to protect nesting seabirds. Permission to visit should be sought from DPIW.

Acknowledgements The nomination was prepared by Peter Britton. Rachael Alderman and Rosemary Gales of DPIW kindly commented on the nomination.

References Brothers, N., Pemberton, D., Pryor, H. and Halley, V. (2001) Tasmania's Offshore Islands: seabirds and other natural features. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: Hobart.

Marchant, S. and Higgins, P.J. (Eds)(1990) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 1: Ratites to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Melbourne.

Milledge, D. and Brothers, N. (1976) Maatsuyker Island, Tasmania. Australian Bird Bander 14: 32-34.

Skira, I.J., Brothers, N.P. and Pemberton, D. (1996) Distribution, abundance and conservation status of Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris in Tasmania, Australia. Marine Ornithology 24:1-14.

White, G. (1981a) Islands of south-west Tasmania. A.T. Sutton & Co Pty. Ltd: Sydney.

White, G. (1981b) Ile de Golfe, Tasmania. Corella 5: 53-55.

White, G. (1987) Walker Island, Maatsuyker Group, Tasmania. Corella 11: 85-86.

Wiltshire, A., Hamilton, S. and Brothers, N. (2004) First record of Soft-plumaged Petrels, Pterodroma mollis, breeding in Australia. Emu 104: 363-368.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Maatsuyker Island Group. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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