Media Release: Seabed mining an unacceptable risk to Top End coasts

Conservation groups and tourism operators are calling for a permanent ban on seabed mining in the Top End, saying it would have an unacceptable impact on the Top End’s unique coastal waters, tourism and fishing lifestyle. 

The Northern Territory Government first declared a three-year temporary ban on seabed mining in March 2012 and has since extended it twice under both the Country Liberal Party (CLP) and Labor Governments. With the Government’s current temporary ban due to expire in March 2021, the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) is seeking community and stakeholder comment on its draft Review of Seabed Mining in the Northern Territory - Environmental Impacts and Management.

Jacqui Taylor, spokesperson for Keep Top End Coasts Healthy said “Seabed mining has never been allowed in Australia before, and Territorians have made it clear that they want a permanent ban on seabed mining.

“The Top End has some of the last healthy tropical coasts in the world. Destructive seabed mining is like bulldozing the seafloor. It would decimate our marine life, pollute our waters, threaten our fishing and destroy places of cultural significance.

“Right now, seabed mining corporations are lining up to mine some of our most precious places like Fog Bay, Anson Bay and the Wessel Islands. Seabed mining has already been approved or applications to mine exist in many locations across the Territory coast.* 

“If the temporary ban expires, mining companies could exploit 9600km2 of our incredible Territory coasts - an area eight times the size of Darwin Harbour.

“Documents recently received under Freedom of Information laws provide comprehensive evidence that seabed mining would have an unacceptable impact on the Top End’s unique coastal waters, culture and fishing lifestyle. The Government must listen to the people and the evidence, and put a permanent ban in place.” 

Rhett Walker, from Lorella Springs Wilderness Park said “There’s an application to conduct seabed mining along the coastal area stretching the 27km length of Lorella Spring Wilderness Park. I’m worried about the damage this would do to this precious place, for the fish, the turtles and dugongs. 

“I also worry that tourists will no longer want to come. Seabed mining would bulldoze and rip apart the seagrass meadows and intertidal flats of Limmen Bight. The construction of roads, jetties and processing plants that could follow would destroy coastal habitats and the region’s appeal. The ecotourism lifeblood will be drained from this regional community.”

“Lorella Springs, Limmen Bight and the Top End coasts are too important to lose, not just for me, my family and our livelihood, but also for Territorians, Australians and the world,” said Mr Walker.

Ms Taylor said “Healthy coasts and rivers are central to our Top End way of life, our economic success and our culture. They underpin one of the most important economic and cultural pursuits – the Top End fishing experience. They contribute $2billion to the Territory economy each year, supporting more than 6,000 jobs and are a powerful drawcard for tourists from around the world.

“Opening up the Top End’s coastal waters to a new destructive activity like seabed mining puts all this at risk for short-term economic gain. It’s time the Government acts to safeguard our fishing, lifestyle and regional economies, and bans seabed mining for good.” said Ms Taylor. 

*Map of NT Seabed Mining 

Media contact: Fiona Maxwell 0450 035 809