Our coasts and sea life

Stretching from the WA/NT  border in the west, into the Gulf of Carpentaria and across to Queensland in the east, the Northern Territory waters are some of the last healthy tropical waters in the world.

Our Top End coasts are wild, diverse and unique - home to six of the world’s seven sea turtles, migrating whales, the recently-identified snubfin dolphin, the vulnerable dugong and iconic sawfish.

Connecting us to our tropical waters are some of the least disturbed mangrove forests on Earth. More than a third of Australia’s mangroves can be found along our coastlines, rivers and estuaries. They protect our coastline from erosion, storms and cyclones. They filter our waters, and they provide vital nurseries for our fish stocks, including a Top End favourite, the barramundi. Studies have demonstrated that fish abundance is 25 times greater on reefs close to mangrove forests than reefs where mangroves have been destroyed.

Extensive seagrass beds stretch along our shallow coastline and into the Gulf country. These meadows act as filters and stabilise our coasts, while supporting abundant sea life, from grazing sea turtles and dugongs to commercially important prawns.

Vast sandy beaches meet clear tropical waters, teeming with corals. Our coral reefs in Darwin Harbour, the Cobourg Peninsula and along the Arnhem coastline are full of  popular reef fish such as snapper and grouper. Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine species, including our own northern anemone clown fish.


The NT Government is asking for your input. Add your name today.

Now is our chance, as a community of proud Territorians, to shape the future we want for our coasts, lifestyle and livelihoods.

Thanks to the support of thousands of Territorians, the Gunner Government listened to our concerns and committed to developing its 10 year plan to manage and protect our Top End coasts and seas.

But we need to make sure this 10 year plan - the NT Coastal and Marine Management Strategy - does the job and implements enduring solutions. Right now the Government is asking for YOUR input. Please add your name today. Public comment closes 2nd March 2018.

I congratulate the Gunner Government on its commitment to develop a Marine and Coastal Management Strategy, and welcome the release of its Discussion Paper on the suggested goal and management principles, the specific objectives and the desired outcomes. This is an opportunity for all Territorians to have our say on how to ensure a healthy future for the Top End’s coasts and our lifestyle and livelihoods that rely on them.

It is critical that this Discussion Paper is seen as a starting point, an opportunity for Territorians to make it clear to the Government the outcomes the community want to see as a result of this process.

The Northern Territory coast and marine environment is truly special, for unique marine wildlife, its iconic fishing, and for its strong cultural connections for Indigenous Territorians. Our coastline is in relatively good shape, but it is facing increasing threats evidenced by the recent large-scale mangrove dieback, pollution, and that the fishing isn’t as good as it used to be in places.

Right along the coastline, across sectors and communities, Territorians are seeing the pressures mounting and want more to be done. We need measures that not only manage threats, but that also take a proactive approach to securing the future of our coasts. I would like your government to build on the work of stakeholders and the community, and deliver a suite of Territory style solutions. These should include Seacountry Indigenous Protected Areas, recreational fishing areas and national parks in the sea. Importantly, our tropical rivers must continue to flow and our precious seagrass meadows safeguarded from the threat of seabed mining.

This Coastal and Marine Management Strategy presents an opportunity for Government, stakeholders and the community to set our Northern Territory waters up for the future through application of enduring solutions. Without this proper protection and management, the Top End coasts and seas are at risk.

Please count this as my submission to the Coastal and Marine Management Strategy consultation.

I look forward to your response and to working with you to develop a plan that delivers the protection and management that our Top End coasts need in order to secure their future.