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  • The Northern Territory is home to six of the world's seven species of sea turtles and some of the planet's biggest populations of threatened dugongs

Northern Territory

Keep our Top End coasts healthy

The great outdoors is the heart of the Top End lifestyle. The Territory is home to some of the last healthy tropical waters on the planet - with mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses, home to turtles, dugongs, snubfin dolphins and huge schools of reef fish.

The natural environment, its beauty and the bounty it provides are central to the Top End’s way of life, to economic success and to Territorians shared futures. They are tourism magnet - core to our economy and local livelihoods

The Northern Territory coastline has provided a continuous home to Indigenous communities for thousands of years and is often known as ‘saltwater country’. For saltwater people all aspects of social, cultural and economic life are intimately connected to the health of their coastal lands and seas.

The unique way of life is, however, under stress. The Top End fishing is amazing, but places such as Darwin Harbour are not as good as they used to be. Pollution is damaging our beaches and coasts. Mangroves are being destroyed. Industrialisation is on the Government’s agenda.

These increasing threats are causing stress to our Top End coasts - putting our incredible marine life and treasured way of life at risk. A plan to safeguard the Top End's coasts is needed now. There are proven solutions on offer, including Indigenous Sea Country protected areas, and protecting our coasts to support our fishing lifestyle.

Territory waters

 The Northern Territory government is responsible for the management of its waters from the coast out to three nautical miles (5.5 kms), including the beautiful bays and estuaries. Just under 5% (around 3,200km2) of NT's waters are currently protected in marine parks. Of this less than 1% (700km2) is in highly protected marine sanctuaries, which provide the best possible protection for our marine life. Two established parks which most Australians know are the Kakadu National Park (which has a coastal component) and Cobourg Marine Park. In 2012 AMCS welcomed the announcement of the Territory's third marine park – Limmen Bight Marine Park

Federal waters

On 16th November 2012, Australia’s Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke set in law the world’s largest network of marine parks including in the North Marine Region. This National declaration was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Australian public. It followed 15 years of advocacy, science and consultation, and more than a decade's work by consecutive governments from both major parties. The marine reserve system went through six rounds of public consultation, with over three quarters of a million people providing submissions - 95 per cent in favour of greater protection for Australia’s oceans.  In 2013 the incoming Abbott government suspended the parks and ordered a Review. The Review’s final consultation phase is expected to begin July 2017.

The North Marine Region stretches from the Western Australian-Northern Territory border in the west through to the tip of Cape York in Queensland. The 2012 network of Commonwealth marine reserves comprised eight marine parks covering more than 157 483 km2.

Banner image: Turtle hatchling by Hannah Seaward.