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Dear Party Leaders and Candidates,

Documents have been obtained under Freedom of Information laws about seabed mining in Territory waters. These documents have been summarised into a new report released today by Keep Top End Coasts Healthy. 

The evidence is in - the introduction of seabed mining to the Top End would create unacceptable environmental, cultural and social costs to the Territory. I therefore urge you to commit to a ban on seabed mining in the Territory. 

Although there is a moratorium on seabed mining in place, I am very concerned as it is expiring in March 2021. Without a permanent ban, many locations across the Territory coast where seabed mining has already been approved or where applications to mine exist, remain at significant risk. These include some of our most treasured places like Hyland, Anson and Blue Mud Bays, and the Wessel Islands and Limmen Bight. 

The Seabed mining threatens Top End treasures’ report found that the Territories mangroves, seagrasses, tidal flats, coral reefs and estuaries would be devastated by seabed mining. Furthermore, marine animals, including threatened species of marine turtles, dolphins, dugongs, migratory shorebirds would suffer from habitat destruction and fragmentation, reduced water quality and the general decline in the health of the marine environment. 

The report also found that the economic benefits from seabed mining would be relatively small compared to its negative economic impact on tourism, recreational and commercial fishing, and ecosystem services. Furthermore, laws for mining have been designed around land-based mines and are ill-equipped to cope with the very different circumstances of seabed mining in dynamic marine environments.

Our coasts are at the heart of our Top End lifestyle. They provide a beautiful backdrop to the daily lives of Territorians, a source of recreation and leisure, healthy food in the fish and crabs caught by many fishers and their families. Our coasts are the centrepiece for the tourist experience and are critical to our economy.   

I urge you to commit to permanently ban seabed mining from Territory seas at the upcoming NT election – to protect our coasts and our treasured Top End lifestyle.

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