Our sea and river country is rich in marine life. Landowners and djungkay have always harvested the abundant marine resources to feed their families: fish, oysters, turtle, dugong, mud crabs and more. Today, many visitors also like to access these resources, including a number of commercial fishers who operate fish and crab licences in our region under Northern Territory Fisheries legislation, and also illegal foreign fishing vessels.
Our coastline and its marine life face ongoing threats: illegal foreign fishing vessels seeking, for example, catches of shark fin and sea cucumbers; and any fishing operator who takes too many fish or mud crabs, or harms species such as turtles, marine mammals, seabirds and undersized fish by illegally killing them or leaving nets and other rubbish to drift in the water. Operators who work outside of their licensed areas are also threats – to marine life and to our sacred sites in the sea and rivers.
We are conducting regular sea country patrols and surveillance in partnership with Australian Customs, NT Fisheries and the Water Police. Our rangers are gaining increased powers of enforcement through targeted training and we are developing a fee-for-service educational program for commercial fishers to show and teach them about our history and culturally significant places.
Our long-term goal is that commercial fishers behave within the law and illegal fishing does not increase in our waters.