Sea turtles, dugongs and some of the healthiest tropical seas in the world are now safe as the Northern Territory Government protects waters around Groote Eylandt from devastating seabed mining, according to leading Territory environment groups the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Environment Centre NT.
‘The government has recognised that strip mining the seabed is bad for sea country around Groote Eylandt. Now they must permanently ban seabed mining from all Territory waters so popular spots like Fog Bay near the Finniss River, and northern Arnhem Land are safe,’ said Daisy Barham from the Australian Marine Conservation Society in Darwin.
‘Open cut strip mining of the Territory’s seabed would devastate the feeding grounds on which our fish, turtles, dolphins and dugongs depend. This is why [the] announcement is so significant.
‘Seabed mining is risky business. Shifting ocean currents, sedimentation and disposal of waste materials combine to make mining minerals from the seabed incredibly hazardous.
‘In 2012 nearshore waters off popular fishing spots like Fog and Anson Bays, and in northern Arnhem Land around Howard and Elcho Islands were earmarked for seabed mining exploration. We’re asking the Chief Minister to protect these special areas too,’ said Ms Barham.
Dr Stuart Blanch from the Environment Centre NT said, ‘The Anindilyakwa Land Council has shown strong leadership in looking after sea country around Groote Eylandt in opposing seabed mining, and their efforts have paid off and they deserve our congratulations.’
In 2012 the Territory government introduced a three-year moratorium on seabed mining and exploration, pending a review by the Environmental Protection Agency. The interim report released in November 2012 recommended further research be conducted given the ‘many unknown problems likely to be encountered in securing sound environmental management and effective impact mitigation strategies’.