Dear Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Territory Leaders,
I am pleased to see the Government is developing a strategy for Darwin Harbour.
A strong plan to safeguard our Harbour is essential if we are to maintain its environmental, cultural, social and economic values for future generations.
Darwin has a unique coastal lifestyle worth protecting. Our capital city is surrounded by the waters of the harbour, providing a beautiful backdrop to the daily lives of locals, a source of recreation and leisure, and providing healthy food in the form of fish and crabs caught by many fishers and their families. It is a centrepiece for the tourist experience and facilitates the passage of many marine-based industries.
But our Harbour is facing growing pressures. Many Territorians have observed that things on the water are not as good as they used to be and the fishing is in decline. Toxic pollution, urban and industrial development, the clearing of critical mangrove habitat, dredging, oil spills and increases in shipping are taking a toll on the health of our Harbour.
The Darwin Harbour strategy must be accompanied by an implementation plan and include the following:
- An implementation plan that includes best-practice monitoring and adaptive management, measurable objectives with indicators, targets and timelines and the agencies responsible for achieving them, and work with the Larrakia people in the planning, management and protection of Darwin Harbour;
- Include explicit reference to the new NT Coastal and Marine Management Strategy to ensure integration in the implementation of the two strategies, ensuring a proactive approach to management and protection is taken;
- Insert a ‘guiding principle’ addressing the impacts of climate change which is impacting natural, cultural, social and economic values of the Harbour;
- Protect vital habitats like mangroves which are under threat from climate change;
- Due to urgency, conduct a Strategic Environmental Assessment of Middle Arm as a priority ahead of the welcome commitment to conduct a Harbour-wide strategic assessment;
- Develop and implement an integrated and harbour-wide Dredge Management Plan;
- Ensure that the impact on the environment and the cultural, recreational and social assets and values are well offset by industry investment;
Let’s take care of the Harbour's values for current and future generations.