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Northern Territory End User Needs Analysis

Toward a marine science plan for the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Marine Science End User Needs Analysis was jointly commissioned by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Charles Darwin University. It provides an understanding of the marine research needs of the Northern Territory to ensure the unique marine ecosystems of the region are maintained in a healthy state, so all users can benefit from its valuable resources without compromising long-term sustainability.

The Analysis was the first such study to include comprehensive engagement with Indigenous communities regarding their aspirations and concerns for the marine environment.

It provides a strong foundation to plan the research needed to manage and protect the marine ecosystems of the Northern Territory.

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Knowledge for a valuable region

Australia’s Northern Territory is one of the few remaining relatively intact tropical marine ecosystems in the world. It is unique, in both its character and use, with significant biological, ecological and indigenous cultural values.

Marine based industries in the Territory are also a critical component of the regional and national economy. The Northern Territory’s wild-catch fishing, prawn industry and recreational fishing industries are worth up to $190 million per annum and during 2015-16, the Territory had merchandise exports of $5.1 billion. Marine oriented ‘farming’ industries, and aquaculture and pearling in the region produce an estimated Gross Value Product of about $74 million each year, while the crocodile industry accounts for an additional $23 million.

This exceptional environment 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 a range of decisions regarding human use of, and impacts on the Northern Territory marine environment. However, in many instances, these decisions are not adequately informed by marine science knowledge. Poor decisions can limit the prosperity and quality of life of the Northern Territory’s people.

Understanding the needs of Northern Territory marine users

This report provides a deeper understanding of the research needed to protect Northern Territory ecosystems and ensure the social and cultural values associated with the marine environment are preserved and flourish.

It identifies the marine science needs of all key stakeholders including those of Indigenous communities and traditional owners regarding their challenges and aspirations for the marine environment, through consultations undertaken by the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA).

Toward a marine science plan for the Northern Territory

This report provides a strong foundation to help plan the science behind the management and protection of the ecosystems of the Northern Territory.

It also aims to support economic development in a way that preserves and strengthens Indigenous cultural values and environmental attributes. With Indigenous communities owning about 85% of the Northern Territory coastline, an opportunity presents for marine researchers to work in committed partnerships with the Traditional Owners, looking toward two-way learning from marine science and Indigenous ecological knowledge of sea country.

As leading research providers with a base in the Territory, AIMS and Charles Darwin University are using the Analysis to focus and refine our marine science investments and activity to ensure our research has impact for Northern Territory stakeholders and users more broadly.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Richard Brinkman
Research Program Leader
(+61) 7 4753 4374