Territory Stories

Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks



Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks

Other title

Environment Protection Agency.


Environment Protection Agency (Northern Territory); Northern Territory. Department Of Lands, Planning And Environment


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT





Table of contents

Executive summary -- Introduction -- 1. Background -- 1.1 Terms of reference -- 1.2 Scope and structure of the review -- 1.3 Ecologically sustainable development and governance -- 1.4 Ecologically sustainable development, principles and criteria -- 1.5 The Darwin Harbour Region -- 2. Ecologically sustainable development in legislation, policies and plans -- 2.1 Strategic development and management -- 2.2 Land use -- 2.3 Minerals, extractive materials and petroleum -- 2.4 Ports -- 2.5 Pollution, waste and public health -- 2.6 Water -- 2.7 Fisheries and marine areas -- 2.8 Biodiversity, heritage and natural resource management -- 2.9 Environmental assessment -- 3. Discussion and findings -- 4. Advice.




Darwin Harbour -- Environmental aspects; Environmental management -- Northern Territory -- Darwin Harbour

Publisher name

Environment Protection Agency

Place of publication



vii, 59 p. : col. ills. ; 30 cm.

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Copyright owner

Environment Protection Agency



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34 around the coastal fringes of the harbour is planned to increase. These are just two factors that will undoubtedly increase the pressures placed upon the harbour and the likelihood of marine pollution events. Legislation The Marine Pollution Act seeks to regulate all ship-sourced pollution in NT waters. All vessels are subject to the Marine Pollution Act and Regulations except government and Naval vessels. The protection of environmental values within the harbour is considered under the Act through a number of offences dealing with pollution of the marine environment, and the requirement that all ships must have in place a shipboard oil pollution emergency plan. ESD The Act does not refer to ESD or any of the associated principles, but a number of mechanisms established under the Act reflect certain principles to some extent. Integration There is a lack of integration between the Marine Pollution Act and other legislation addressing threats to the environment posed by ships and marine transport. The incidents at East Arm Wharf have highlighted a failure of environmental protection legislation to address pollution entering the harbour from a port area, as the offences established under the Marine Pollution Act can only be enforced against the ship owner or shipping company and only apply to ship-sourced pollution. The Port By-Laws also create a number of offences where wastes are discharged in port areas, creating some overlap with the Marine Pollution Act. The Department of Lands and Planning (DLP) Marine Safety Branch has key responsibility for administering the Marine Act and the Marine Pollution Act, while DPC is charged with administering the Port By-Laws. This administrative overlap creates uncertainty regarding which agency is responsible for monitoring compliance with environmental protection laws in port areas. A similar issue arises in the operation of the Marine Safety Branch (DLP), the DPC and NRETAS which is responsible for administering the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act. Public Participation There is no provision for public participation under the marine pollution regulatory framework. Other Critical Issues for ESD While the Marine Pollution Act addresses a number of specific sources of pollution that are prohibited in coastal waters, grants specific and broad powers to authorised officers, and creates a number of offences where that pollution occurs, these penalties will be ineffective unless they are supported by a rigorous and robust enforcement regime. The Act covers all coastal waters including the area from the low water mark of the NT coast to approximately three nautical miles seawards. Given the extent of this area, significant investment by the relevant agencies is required to establish such a regime.