News

Port Melville Approved Despite Expert Advice on Impact to Wildlife

Freedom of Information documents show the controversial Port Melville on the Tiwi Islands was approved by the Federal Government despite internal advice it was likely to have adverse impacts on a number of our threatened species, including shorebirds, dugongs and olive ridley turtles. It was also approved with no written procedures on how to shutdown supply from 30 million litre diesel tanks or deal with major spills if needed. The Port was built to withstand a category two cyclone, yet Elcho Island further east along the NT coastline suffered from a category four cyclone in 2015 and the old Port Melville was destroyed by a cyclone in 2007. Read the full article by the ABC here or by The Australian here.

Let's Flock Together

The dragonflies have arrived! Their arrival signals the dispersal of dramatic clouds, the conclusion of the wet season and the departure of up to 37 migratory shorebirds who call the Top End home in summer. Fancy yourself a world traveler? Our yearly temporary residents may challenge you to that title. Their north-south 11,000 km journey along the East Asian-Australian flyway traverses 23 countries: from their northern breeding areas in Russia and the USA (Alaska), via China, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia, to Australia and New Zealand. Our visitors lose up to 40% of their body weight during their long-haul flight, which makes feeding areas here in the Territory, and along their route, of vital importance.

Every Little Bit Makes a Difference!

It was a Saturday night and because I had no food for dinner at home, I ran to the supermarket for my weekly shop. The pre-packaged sushi was discounted and seemed like a great, quick and easy meal idea - until I opened the plastic packaging. Hidden behind the price label was ginger in a plastic wrapper, wasabi in a plastic sachet and soy sauce in plastic foil. So much plastic, and even worse - it was all single-use! I couldn’t reuse it and I’m sceptical of whether they could be or would be recycled. As a coastal-lifestyle enthusiast, I only hope they don’t end up in our seas.

A Hole Full of Fish

When I first discovered that swimming in the Top End seas was a rare activity, I was dismayed. I have spent the past five years living and diving from Indonesian and Mozambican beaches almost every day. I wondered how I’d cope without my daily dose of vitamin sea and sealife! I’d heard about the Top End’s infamous crocodiles, stingers and limited visibility. So it was with some trepidation that I packed my fins, mask and snorkel for my first adventure into local waters. When we arrived at a blue hole near the Vernon Islands off Gunn Point I was delighted to find clear waters and none of the aforementioned crocodiles or stingers. Appreciating my good fortune with conditions I couldn’t wait to jump in and explore.

Celebrating World Wetlands Day

Squelchy mud. Tangled roots. Hot. Humid. Wet. Mangroves aren’t the most inviting ecosystem. But after a talk by our friends at EcoScience to celebrate World Wetlands Day, I’m definitely interested to take the plunge and learn more. “Mangrove” refers to the habitat as well as the plants that live between the sea and land, flooded by sea tides. A mangrove may be a tree, a shrub, a palm, or a fern, but all of them are able to tolerate excess salt and air-less soils, coming together to form mangrove forests along coastlines, rivers and estuaries.

Disgraceful announcement by Environment Minister, Greg Hunt

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is outraged by the Australian Government’s decision that Port Melville marine supply base does not require an environmental impact assessment. Read our joint media release below. While the rest of the world is protecting their oceans, both the Territory and Australian governments are full steam ahead industrialising our Top End seas. Our Northern Territory waters are some of the last pristine waters on earth. Our marine life is extraordinary with many species of national and international significance whose range and distribution are largely limited to our healthy waters.  We have an incredibly diverse collection of sea life and habitats. Marine species are still being identified and described here in the Top End. Port Melville marine supply base will operate to service the offshore oil and gas industry. The chance of environmental catastrophe is very high with 30 million litres of fuel sitting on the water’s edge in a cyclone prone area. A full environmental impact assessment should be the bare minimum required for such a massive scale operation. This decision has the potential to alter the health of our pristine waters forever. It is not only our environment at risk, but also our Territory lifestyle. Here in the Northern Territory, we need to ensure that our Top End seas and iconic places are managed sustainably. Developments of this scale require proper environmental impact assessments. This decision clearly highlights the inadequate environmental standards of the Territory and Australian governments. Contact your local MP and raise your concerns about this development! Call for strong protection for our marine life and way of life.

The latest on Port Melville

Surrounded by near pristine waters, the Tiwi Islands are home to 38 threatened species of plants and animals including the endangered Olive Ridley turtle. Yet the NT Government has allowed a massive port expansion on the Tiwi Islands without a proper environmental assessment - leaving our precious marine life at risk. Port Melville was finally referred to the federal Department of Environment as a Marine Supply Base. Together, Top End Sea Life supporters sent close to 400 emails to the Department of Environment asking for the highest level Environmental Impact Assessment before operation commences. Port Melville, originally proposed to service the local forestry industry, is now being promoted by the development company to act as a supply base for the offshore oil and gas industry. This means that thirty million litres of petro-chemicals will be located in a sensitive and cyclone prone area. If disaster struck, the results would be catastrophic. The endangered Olive Ridley turtle nests on the tropical beaches of the Tiwi Islands. The Tiwi Islands are surrounded by some of the last unspoiled waters on the planet. They support wildlife, corals, seagrass, mangroves, healthy fisheries, and species whose range and distribution is restricted to northern Australia. The approval of this destructive development without adequate environmental assessment is yet another example of the industrialisation of our oceans. Our Top End seas deserve better. Healthy seas are fundamental to our territory lifestyle. They support fishing, tourism and our incredible marine life such as turtles, dugongs, sharks and whales.

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