Our coasts and sea life

Stretching from the WA/NT  border in the west, into the Gulf of Carpentaria and across to Queensland in the east, the Northern Territory waters are some of the last healthy tropical waters in the world.

Our Top End coasts are wild, diverse and unique - home to six of the world’s seven sea turtles, migrating whales, the recently-identified snubfin dolphin, the vulnerable dugong and iconic sawfish.

Connecting us to our tropical waters are some of the least disturbed mangrove forests on Earth. More than a third of Australia’s mangroves can be found along our coastlines, rivers and estuaries. They protect our coastline from erosion, storms and cyclones. They filter our waters, and they provide vital nurseries for our fish stocks, including a Top End favourite, the barramundi. Studies have demonstrated that fish abundance is 25 times greater on reefs close to mangrove forests than reefs where mangroves have been destroyed.

Extensive seagrass beds stretch along our shallow coastline and into the Gulf country. These meadows act as filters and stabilise our coasts, while supporting abundant sea life, from grazing sea turtles and dugongs to commercially important prawns.

Vast sandy beaches meet clear tropical waters, teeming with corals. Our coral reefs in Darwin Harbour, the Cobourg Peninsula and along the Arnhem coastline are full of  popular reef fish such as snapper and grouper. Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine species, including our own northern anemone clown fish.

The health of our coasts are too valuable to risk

SIGN THE PETITION CALLING FOR ACTION TODAY

A timely new report - Valuing Our Top End Coasts and Seas - spells out just how valuable the health of these coasts is to our Territory lifestyle, livelihoods and economy.

But it also found that without proper protection and management, the Top End is at risk.

Make sure your local politicians hear your concern: Add your name today telling the Gunner Government that the health of our coasts is too valuable to risk, and we need a Plan that will properly protect our coasts into the future.


I am writing to you as a constituent who is concerned about the health of our Top End coasts.

I want to draw your attention to a new report, Valuing Our Top End Coasts and Seas, which highlights just how valuable the health of our coasts is to the Northern Territory lifestyle, livelihoods and economy. It also finds that without proper protection and management, the Top End is at risk.

Over the next two weeks, I understand that Territory Cabinet will be considering the first stage of the Coastal and Marine Management Strategy - a welcome step towards fulfilling a key election commitment. I urge you to take note of the important findings in Valuing Our Top End Coasts and Seas (summarised below), and do all you can to ensure that the Strategy includes the necessary measures to properly protect our coasts into the future.

As Territorians, we all share a special connection to our Top End coasts, a fact that is recognised in this report. We have some of the last healthy and unique tropical waters on Earth, and recognise that they are central to our economic success, and to our Top End culture and lifestyle.

The report finds that -

  • With a production value around $180million, recreational, commercial and tour fishing are important economic drivers in the Top End and are all reliant on the good health of coasts;

  • tourism is now the NT economy’s third largest sector, generating 15,500 jobs (compared to 4,800 in the mining and resource sector);

  • ecosystem services provided by mangroves, seagrasses and nearshore waters are valued at $428million annually;

  • the unique Top End lifestyle is a major selling point used to attract residents and visitors alike to the Top End;

  • for Indigenous saltwater people all aspects of social, cultural, and economic life are intimately connected to the health of their coastal lands and seas; and

  • with threats to our Top End coasts increasing, effective protection and management should now be a priority. These should include Sea Country Indigenous Protected Areas, national parks in the sea and recreational fishing areas. This would bring significant benefits to the NT's people and economy.

On the whole, the Top End’s coasts and seas remain in very good condition. Yet, without improved protection and management, the Top End is at risk of the degradation seen in southern and eastern Australia. The health of our coasts is too valuable to risk, and we need a Plan that will properly protect our coasts into the future. I want my elected representatives to take this threat seriously and act.

This is an opportunity that will greatly benefit our Top End communities, lifestyle, livelihoods and economy - particularly through tourism.  

The report can be downloaded at topendcoasts.org.au/resources.

I look forward to your response.