Updated: January 10, 2012
Creating Marine Protected Areas
The Northern Territory (NT) has one of the healthiest tropical marine ecosystems left on the planet, but less than 1% of NT waters are fully protected.
NT waters are home to globally significant populations of threatened and endangered species including sea turtles, dugongs, snub-fin dolphins and sawfish, but increasing pressure from commercial and recreational fishing, oil and gas expansion, sea-bed mining and industrial development are threatening this amazing marine wildlife.
Scientists assert that marine sanctuaries as the best tool for protecting marine biodiversity. Sanctuaries create meaningful employment in regional areas in tourism and resource management.
We are calling on all political parties to protect this rich marine heritage while it is still healthy, and before it is too late.
10 years of promises
At the 2001 and 2005 elections, NT Labor promised to develop a network of marine parks for the NT. In 2007, then Environment Minister Marion Scrymgour initiated the NT Marine Protected Area (MPA) Advisory Committee - all stakeholders, including the fishing industry agreed ‘in principle’ to a draft strategy.
The NT MPA Strategy was never released, but in 2008 Fisheries Minister Kon Vatskalis said; ‘the NT Government remained committed to a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of MPAs’.
In March 2010 the Fisheries Minister again said; ‘the Territory is a signatory to the Strategic Plan of Action for the NRSMPA…’ and that ‘the principal goal of that strategy is to establish a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of MPAs.
Despite a decade of promises Labor has not created new MPAs.
What is needed
All political parties should commit to establishing, maintaining and adequately resourcing a world-class network of marine sanctuaries. Traditional Owners across the NT should be offered the opportunity to develop innovative, co-managed Indigenous marine sanctuaries as part of this network.
New marine sanctuaries;
- should not be created one at a time, but rather be announced in a Territory-wide network - with a minimum of seven sanctuaries (at least one in each bioregion in the NT);
- must be based on the scientific principles contained in the draft MPA Strategy agreed to by all stakeholders;
- must be large enough to effectively protect marine life and be adequately funded to ensure successful implementation, management, monitoring and evaluation.
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Inc