The Northern Territory Government has released a discussion paper for public consultation on what will be the Territory's first Coastal and Marine Management Strategy. Feedback can be provided by Friday, 2 March 2018. 

On 25 January 2018, the Northern Territory Government released a Discussion Paper on a proposed Coastal and Marine Management Strategy in line with one of its key election commitments. It is understood that the Strategy is expected to be completed and released in June 2018.

Developing the Coastal and Marine Management Strategy

In June 2017, a Strategy Development Workshop was held in Darwin which involves discussions between NT Government agencies and a Partnership Group which was formed by representatives from partner organisations that represents land owners, industry and community groups.

The purpose of the Workshop was to develop a goal, guiding principles, objectives of coastal and marine management and the long-term outcomes needed to achieve those objectives for the purpose of drafting the key elements of the Strategy drawing on environmental, cultural, social and economic themes.

The aim of the Strategy, once finalised, is to provide guidance to managers and decision makers, clarity to stakeholders and set a 10-year direction for the management of the coastal and marine environments of the Territory.

The landward boundary for the Strategy is the extent of marine influence, including coastal processes (for example storm surge).The seaward boundary is the outer limit of the NT's coastal waters which covers an area of approximately 72,000km² (or 17.5% of Australia's coastal waters).

The "Our Coasts and Seas" Discussion Paper

The Discussion Paper was prepared for public consultation to seek feedback on the suggested goal and management principles, the specific objectives and the desired outcomes developed in the Workshop. The key aspects of the Discussion are:

The Goal

Our Coast and Seas are healthy and productive. Their cultural significance is recognised and they continue to support out lifestyle, likelihoods and sustainable industries.

Guiding Principles

Eleven principles should be applied by managers and decision-makers to protect and enhance the important contribution the connection all Territorians have as custodians of the NT for future generations. The principles include:

  • Our natural environment is integral to our unique lifestyle and well-being.
  • Aboriginal ownership, obligations and cultural values must be recognised and, traditional lifestyle practices sustained.
  • Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) is fundamental to our economy and society.

    Management must be adaptive and flexible now and for the future.

  • Extent of regulation must be commensurate with the level of risk.
  • Industries benefiting from coastal and marine resources should reinvest in positive social/environmental outcomes.
  • Decisions must be based on the best available evidence ‒ including Traditional knowledge, community knowledge and scientific knowledge.
  • Continual effort must be made to further enhance our knowledge and understanding.
  • A partnership approach to management that identifies common goals and operates in good faith for the Territory should be adopted.
  • Local communities must be empowered to participate in decision-making processes.
  • Intergenerational equity (ie. fairness between the current and future generations) is important for the future.

Objectives and long-term outcomes

There are six objectives for which long-term outcomes have been developed:

  • Safeguard our coasts and seas ‒ balancing the uses of an ever-increasing human population to ensure enjoyment of the resources provided by these environments without causing damage.
  • Celebrate our culture ‒ acknowledging and celebrating the rich mix of cultural backgrounds and heritage of the Territory, in particular the cultural and ecological knowledge of the Traditional Owners and their communities.
  • Foster sustainable industry ‒ foster sustainable industry in the context of the coastal and marine zone in conjunction with the Northern Territory Economic Development Framework.
  • Maintain our unique lifestyle ‒ maintaining fishing and recreational activities.
  • Work together ‒ Territorians embracing their role as custodians of their marine environment and creating opportunities for the integration management of the natural resources.
  • Improve our knowledge ‒ evidence-based science and knowledge must be at the centre of all decision-making.

The Discussion Paper sets out the long-term outcomes that are needed to achieve the above objectives, notably:

  • impacts from all human activity are minimised, managed according to the principles of ESD and effectively regulated;
  • the NT policy and management of coastal waters and seas are improved; and
  • land tenure and access rights are clarified.

The Discussion Paper states that the final Strategy will also incorporate three inputs for facilitating an adaptive approach ‒ identification of the natural, cultural, social and economic values of the area; monitoring and reporting programs to provide up to date information about condition and trend of those values; and engaging the community in management to attain a broader experience and knowledge base.

It is understood that an Implementation Plan will be developed within six months after the final endorsement of the Strategy by the NT Government. The Discussion Paper states that the Implementation Plan will, for each of the six objectives, identify things such as (amongst others) the actions, the who and how for implementing those actions, timeframes and reporting.

Have your say

Feedback on the Discussion Paper can be provided by email or via an online survey in accordance with the details on the Department's website.