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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41 reference, however, to any of the specific principles of ESD, such as the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity. While ESD is recognised as an objective of the Act, the Part of the Act providing for FMAs17 does not specifically refer to ESD or its associated principles, and there is no statutory requirement for decision-makers to take these into account when making decisions regarding FMAs. Policies and Plans The Department of Resources Fisheries group have adopted a policy which commits them to implementing the principles of ESD into the management of all its fisheries under the existing framework. Northern Territory export fisheries must demonstrate that their management is ecologically sustainable in order to receive export accreditation and exemption from export controls under the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. Under the EPBC Act all Australian fisheries that export product are required to be assessed for their environmental performance against the Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Development of Fisheries18. The process involves intensive reporting and negotiation with the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPC)19 to accurately reflect and ultimately accredit the management arrangements. Integration A gap in the legislative framework applying to fisheries, regarding the protection of threatened species of fish and aquatic life, highlights a lack of effective integration of the Fisheries Act within broader environmental protection frameworks. The Fisheries Regulations (Regulation 10) specifically prohibit a person from taking fish or aquatic life which is a protected species under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (TPWCA). The TPWCA, however, does not include fish within its definition of wildlife. This means that the declaration of threatened species under Section 30 of that Act, and the protections afforded to those species, do not apply to fish. A Memorandum of Understanding between NT Fisheries and the Parks and Wildlife Commission states that threatened fish and aquatic species, as identified jointly by the two agencies, are to be declared and managed under the TPWC Act. However, as noted above, there is no provision within that Act for fish species to be declared and protected as threatened species. The failure of the legislative framework applying to marine areas to provide for the protection of marine habitats such as seagrass beds, mangroves, mudflats and intertidal zones is another obstacle to the conservation of biodiversity resulting from a lack of integrated frameworks. The increase of residential development in areas surrounding or adjacent to marine areas is a particular threat in the Darwin Harbour region, as runoff from these areas has a direct impact on the sensitive receiving marine environment. 17 Part III, Section 21 18 DEWR 2007 19 Previously the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA)