Dear Territory leaders (cc my MLA),
Healthy coasts and rivers are central to our Top End way of life, our economic success and our culture. They contribute $2billion to the Territory economy each year supporting more than 6,000 jobs, and are a powerful drawcard for tourists from around Australia and the world. They underpin one of the most important economic and cultural pursuits – the Top End fishing experience.
While our coasts are mostly in good shape, they are under threat. Many Territorians have observed that things on the water are not as good as they used to be. Industrial development is expanding along the coast, destroying mangroves, polluting Darwin Harbour and damaging our fishing. Our precious rivers are under threat from proposals for industrial-scale dams, cotton and water extraction. Territorians want action to protect our coasts and fishing lifestyle.
The Territory has its first ever comprehensive plan to safeguard our coasts and lifestyle. However, since the widely welcomed NT Coastal and Marine Management Strategy 2019-29 was released, little has been done. With threats on the rise, we’ve no time to waste.
Protecting the Territory’s unique and valuable coastline and the jobs that depend on it was a high profile issue in the 2020 NT election. Now that the Gunner Government has been re-elected on the promise to put in place the Plan to protect our coasts we need to get on with the job. This starts with the commitment to develop two regional coastal plans using spatial marine planning with Traditional Owners and stakeholders during this term of government.
We have proven solutions on offer that can be tailored to the Territory, like sea country Indigenous Protected Areas, recreational fishing areas, more marine parks like Limmen Bight that deliver jobs for tourism and Indigenous rangers. Importantly, our tropical rivers must continue to flow, supporting our fishing lifestyle and helping sustain our regional economies.
Protection of our coasts is important for me. Therefore, I urge you to act swiftly and put the Plan for our coasts into action, to help recover our Top End economy and safeguard our fishing, culture and lifestyle.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you about how you will deliver the protection and management that our Top End coasts deserve.