There are many contributing factors to ensure our coastal and marine environment is managed for environmental conservation, economic development, traditional practices and our beloved lifestyle. Getting that balance right involves good science and community consultation to ensure that what we love is also enjoyed by future generations.
The Territory’s unique way of life depends on the health of the great outdoors. There are, however, threats to our coasts. A plan to safeguard the Top End’s coasts is needed now. There are proven solutions on offer, including national parks in the sea, Indigenous Sea Country protected areas, and protecting our coasts to support our fishing lifestyle.
National Parks in the Sea
National Parks in the sea are referred to as marine parks. Science shows that marine parks help to ensure we have fish for the future by protecting key breeding and feeding areas, and they are proven to help reefs recover from devastating coral bleaching events.
Marine parks are managed areas at sea that incorporate the needs of many user groups, including recreational and commercial fishers, and oil and gas. Generally, marine parks also include high protection sanctuary areas, where commercial fishing and extractive activities, such as oil and gas, are banned.
Indigenous Sea Country Protected Areas
Traditional owners of northern Australia have long managed their sea country for the sustained use of the marine environment. Today, Aboriginal ranger groups manage land and seas under the guidance of the broader Traditional Owner groups, combining traditional and local Indigenous knowledge with conventional science.
Groups like Dhimurru maintain a well managed system of permits and recreational beach maintenance through their land and sea Indigenous Protected Area to ensure non-aboriginal people can enter, camp and fish in a sustainable manner, while also conducting and supporting other research and management of the sea.
Around 85% of the coastal lands in the Northern Territory are owned and managed by Aboriginal people. The vast majority of Traditional Owners aspire to continue their traditional practices and maintain and improve the health of the NT coasts through mechanisms such as Indigenous Protected Areas on sea country.