Recently, we heard the shocking news that the mighty Roper River has been earmarked for “dams, weirs and pipelines”. We cannot allow the Roper to be sucked dry.
The Federal Government has funded the CSIRO to undertake a major study to identify the agriculture potential in the Roper River catchment, which could potentially see more than 1 million hectares of the catchment bulldozed for irrigated agriculture.
I am very concerned that if this study leads to the development and major water extraction from the Roper River, drastic environmental consequences will follow. At a time when we can see the disastrous impacts of irrigated cotton on the Murray Darling River, it would be terrible to repeat them on the mighty Roper.
This is the latest in a long list of threats to our Top End coasts and fishing lifestyle. The Roper River is the third big Territory River to be recently earmarked to be dammed, joining the Finniss and Adelaide Rivers in the Federal Government’s line of sight.
Fish and other wildlife cannot make necessary migrations to breed and feed without natural river flows, and the receiving marine environment will be without nutrients essential to life. The mighty Roper River flows into Limmen Bight Marine Park sustaining the ecosystem, which includes extensive seagrass beds, home to turtle and dugong populations.
The Roper River and Limmen Bight are too precious to risk. The mighty Roper is an iconic Top End river with world-class fishing. It attracts visitors from around the globe. Limmen Bight Marine Park is one of the Territory’s most special natural places - a dugong, turtle and dolphin hotspot which supplies most of the NT’s mudcrabs.
Without adequate protections in place, destructive proposals threaten to destroy the Roper River and Limmen Bight. I urge you to deliver a management plan with zoning that properly protects the Limmen Bight Marine Park, as you promised at the last election. You must also keep the mighty Roper flowing and protect this Top End icon from dams and pollution.