Keep Top End Coasts Healthy
The great outdoors is the heart of the Top End lifestyle. Despite the heat, Territorians get outdoors as often as they can – into the bush to camp and into a tinny to fish.
This unique way of life is, however, under stress. We must protect the Top End way of life and secure the health of the coasts for the future.
What’s special about Top End coasts?
The Top End has some of the last healthy tropical waters on the planet - with mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses. The Top End is home to six of the world’s seven sea turtles, dugongs, snubfin dolphins and huge schools of reef fish.
Healthy coasts are central to the treasured Top End way of life and fishing lifestyle. They are a tourism magnet - core to the economy and local livelihoods.
The Northern Territory coastline has been home to Aboriginal people 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.
Threats to our Top End coasts and way of life
The Top End’s fishing is amazing, but places such as Darwin Harbour are not as good as they used to be. Pollution is damaging the beaches and coasts. Mangroves are being destroyed for short term economic gain. Industrialisation is on the Government’s agenda.
Clearing of mangroves is still permitted in the NT. While banned in some states, destructive coastal canal estates around Darwin remain on the agenda and are taking their toll. The Territory has over a third of Australia’s mangroves - protecting the coastline against storm surges and cyclones, filtering waters, and providing vital nurseries for fish stocks.
The Top End’s rich, remote waters are full of life, but also rich with minerals leaving them open to exploitation by big industry. More than 90% of the Territory’s coastline is covered by petroleum exploration licences or application. Our tropical seas face seismic testing, mining, shipping, port expansion and the risk of oil spills. An industrialisation agenda is undermining the health of our coast and lifestyle.
The rapid expansion of high impact commercial fishing on habitat and marine life is also a great concern for the future of the Territory’s seas. Some trawl fisheries are causing damage to the ocean floor and impacting other commercial fisheries. Popular reef fish have seriously declined due to overfishing in key areas. Scientists have labelled golden snapper and black jewfish as being at risk of collapse - a reminder that the Territory is not immune from the problems experienced elsewhere, such as neighbouring countries in South East Asia which have lost 90% of their biomass.
A plan to safeguard the Top End’s coasts is needed now. There are proven solutions on offer, including national parks in the sea, Indigenous Sea Country protected areas, and protecting the coasts to support the fishing lifestyle.
Take action to keep Top End coasts healthy
We have the power to influence and secure the health of our coasts.