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Toward a marine science plan for the Northern Territory

Toward a marine science plan for the Northern Territory


The Northern Territory's coastal and marine environment and the industries it supports contribute more than $2 billion per year to the local and national economy and generates 6500 jobs.

This economic value is underpinned by decades of investment in marine industries and infrastructure that has positioned the Northern Territory as a major international hub for trading, industry and defence in the region.

A major report released today brings together the experiences of industry, governments, communities and Indigenous custodians to identify key priorities that will encourage sustainable use and development of the marine environment.

The 400-page report entitled the NT Marine Science End User Knoweldge Needs Analysis, commissioned by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Charles Darwin University, put the marine science needs of the Territory’s stakeholders under scrutiny to produce a clearer understanding of their shared needs for the region.

AIMS Research Program Director Dr Richard Brinkman said the report, which consulted marine stakeholders with interests spanning from the NT’s coastline out to the edge of Economic Exclusion Zone, had revealed the priority gaps in science knowledge.

“This is one of the few remaining relatively intact tropical marine ecosystems in the world and a co-ordinated approach to building marine science knowledge is necessary to inform and support sustainable use and development of marine resources across the region,” Dr Brinkman said.

“Northern Australia offers marine industries such as fishing, aquaculture, shipping, energy and tourism enormous potential for growth. Aboriginal people also have significant interests and opportunities in the North’s marine estate as they control over 85% of the Northern Territory intertidal area,” he said.

“As a region primed for growth, the exceptional is facing increasing pressure from a broad range of human activities and demands, including climate change, resource use and development.

“In the face of these pressures, government, regulators and industry are called upon to make numerous decisions regarding use of, and impacts on the Northern Territory marine environment. This report will help us prioritise marine research projects that will address the most critical needs to support development across the North.”

Charles Darwin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the Northern Territory’s marine industries were a critical component of Australia’s regional and national economy, and planning was needed to ensure its positive future.

“This report has brought to light the sheer volume and range of marine science necessary to ensure the marine environment, and the economic, social and cultural values it supports, are preserved.

“We now have a better understanding of where marine users in the Northern Territory feel that scientific understanding is lacking, and it will help us plan future research activities so we can better advise the community, government and industry,” Professor Maddocks said.

The report was overseen by an independent steering group and undertaken collaboratively by Australian Venture Consultants and North Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance.

Find the report here: https://www.aims.gov.au/nt-end-user-needs-analysis

Media enquiries:

Australian Institute of Marine Science
Media officer Emma Chadwick
M: 0412 181 919 or e.chadwick@aims.gov.au

Charles Darwin University
Communications manager Robyn McDougall
P: 08 8946 6551 or robyn.mcdougall@cdu.edu.au

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