Our fishing future at a crossroads

Our lifestyle and livelihoods are connected to the health of our coasts and rivers.

Across northern Australia, our incredible environment is dominated by a monsoonal climate, with large volumes of water that seasonally sustain billabongs, estuaries, and are vital to the Top End’s sea life.

Poor river management has downstream effects on our marine life and can be devastating for recreational and commercial fishers.

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 Southeast Asia which have lost 90% of their fish stocks.

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 cause serious damage to the ocean floor and decrease the abundance and diversity of commercial and recreational fish species.

Territorians love to fish! Fishing in the Top End is amazing, but places like Darwin Harbour are not as good as they used to be, forcing fishers to travel further and further to get the same quality of catch.

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.