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Public Meeting

i May 27th No Comments by

Tindall Aquifer (Mataranka) Water Management

Concerned about water management in the Tindall Aquifer (Mataranka) and the Roper River?

Do you think the NT Government is over-allocating water?

Concerned about impacts on fishing, indigenous communities, water supplies, springs and ecosystems?

Talks by Craig Ingram (AFANT), Alan Maroney (Co-Chair, Mataranka Traditional Owner Water Allocation Reference Group), Stuart Blanch (Environment Centre NT).

Date; Thursday 13th June 2013, 6pm – 8pm (Finger food provided from 5:30pm)

Venue: Mataranka Community Hall

120 Roper Terrace (cnr Warloch & Roper Sts), Mataranka

For more info contact Craig Ingram (AFANT) on 0415 471 600

Blue Mud Bay intertidal waters access in the NT

i May 20th No Comments by


At the time of writing, Northern Territory recreational anglers are again dealing with another recreational angler lockout by traditional owners under the Blue Mud Bay High Court ruling, this time in the upper tidal reaches of the Finniss River. This latest closure came on top of the closure of a vast stretch of coastline across the top of Bathurst and Melville islands in the Tiwi Islands.

The recent closures are a result of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 which was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament under the Fraser Government. This legislation granted title to Aboriginal Land Trusts for most of the traditional lands in the Northern Territory. These grants extended to the mean low water mark and covered 80% of the NT coastline. The legal view at the time was that the grants did not extend to the waters overlying the Aboriginal controlled intertidal land. In 2008 the High Court Blue Mud Bay ruling overturned that view and determined that the control and Aboriginal ownership did extend to waters overlaying Aboriginal Land to the mean low water mark.

With all Aboriginal owned land in the Northern Territory, access is restricted and visitors will need a permit or permission to enter from traditional owners.

AFANT has been involved in these land rights and access issues from before the Blue Mud Bay ruling and this issue is one of the most complex and difficult issues facing recreational angling in the NT. The Blue Mud Bay ruling and the ability for traditional owners to restrict access to the intertidal waters is a Northern Territory specific problem because of the Commonwealth legislation and the way the original land grants were made. This issue is extremely unlikely to have any flow-on to similar situations interstate.

The major challenge and risks demonstrated by the Tiwi and Finniss access issues are on land (intertidal area) grants that predate the Blue Mud Bay ruling. Land grants that were made after the Blue Mud Bay ruling or areas that are still before the courts are easier for government to resolve. Significant areas are still up for land (water) claim including some of the most important fishing areas of the NT. With all unresolved land grants the issue of detriment and access to existing users is addressed through either the courts (Aboriginal Land Commissioner) or the Commonwealth or Territory Governments who have the final sign-off on each land claim.

So while a large number of new and unresolved land (intertidal waters) claims are still before the courts and being negotiated, the government is rightfully focusing on those areas of high recreational fishing pressure that were part of the original land grants.

At this stage agreements have been reached for most of the tidal reaches of the Daly River and the MacArthur River and Sir Edward Pellew group of islands in the gulf. Both of these agreements are for 20 years.

Agreements have also been reached for the Mini Mini/Murgenella area near Coburg (3 year trial) and the Kenbi area including Bynoe Harbour and parts of Darwin Harbour.

AFANT is extremely concerned with the limited timelines of some of the agreements as this will require future governments, land councils and TO’s to renegotiate and reach new agreements at some time in the future. Only the Kenbi claim has been settled in perpetuity which is AFANT’s preferred outcome.

A large number of intertidal waters claims are also still before the courts or yet to be settled by government and traditional owners. These claims cover coastal areas of Kakadu, Cape Hotham, Chambers and Finke Bays and river systems including the Mary, Roper, Victoria, Fitzmaurice Rivers and sections of the Daly and Finniss. AFANT is recognised as an interested party in these hearings.

In the five years since the Blue Mud Bay decision and despite the assurances from successive governments, only a very small portion of the Territory’s intertidal waters access has been resolved. The complexity, confusion and lack of clarity on the issue only make the issue harder for recreational fishers to understand.

AFANT’s aim is to protect the spectacular fishing the NT has on offer and ensure that government honour their commitments on negotiating permit free access to fishing across the NT. What is clear is that the issue will be an ongoing one, for all the above reasons. We would encourage anglers to keep informed through the NT Government or AFANT websites for all developments.

With good luck, good will and some hard work, AFANT believes that this issue will be resolved and anglers will continue to have access to all Blue Mud Bay waters including the great fishing in the upper Finniss River and the Tiwi Islands.

AFANT supports action to fund legacy mine rehabilitation and management

i May 7th No Comments by

The Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT Inc. (AFANT) has welcomed the governments proposed measures for funding action to address legacy mines.

“The mining industry has to take responsibility and pay their way for past environmental mistakes.” AFANT president Warren de With said today.

“The Northern Territory community has been left with too many serious legacy mine sites that are pumping toxic waste into our waterways.”

“The NT Government has a major environmental and financial challenge to fund and conduct the rehabilitation and clean-up of a number of legacy mine sites. These environmental disasters have been created through past practices with insufficient procedures and almost non-existent rehabilitation bonds.”

“Unfortunately some of the worst examples of legacy mines in the Northern Territory are relatively recent projects.”

“It’s time the mining industry acknowledged that as an industry they have to take some of the responsibility and ownership to ensure that the past mining disasters are properly fixed and rehabilitated to ensure that the industry continues to have a social licence to operate.”

“The billion dollar cost of fixing up the environmental damage of legacy mines like Red Bank, Rum Jungle and Mt Todd should not be the responsibility of the taxpayer.”

“The levy for past legacy mines and a 100% rehabilitation bond is the best way to ensure that companies provide sufficient funds to ensure the industry’s rehabilitation obligations.”

“AFANT believes that this is a justifiable and small cost for the mining industry to ensure sufficient funds are provided to manage and fix legacy mine sites.” Mr de With said.

AFANT objects to 9,180 ML water allocation

i May 1st No Comments by

AFANT objects to an application for a further large water allocation of 9,180 ML from the Tindall limestone aquifer

The Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT Inc. (AFANT) is extremely concerned with the lack of clear planning and apparent free for all water allocation process from the Mataranka -Tindall limestone aquifer.

“In a formal objection lodged with the NT Government Water Controller this week the Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT Inc. (AFANT) has opposed the 9,180 ML application for a water extraction licence due to real concerns with the governments abandoning of the required water planning and allocation process and the high likelihood of significant environmental impact on the Roper River” AFANT president Warren de With said today.

“AFANT is extremely concerned with the government’s failure to follow the nationally agreed best practice in water planning in the allocation of water from the Mataranka – Tindall limestone aquifer.”

“The Northern Territory Government signed up to John Howard’s national water reforms and committed to implement and follow best practice in water planning and management. Clearly the current lack of process is in breach of those commitments.”

“We are also strongly of the view based on the evidence provided in the Mataranka – Tindall limestone aquifer draft water allocation plan and supporting documents, that there is significant risk to the Roper River from increased development and the approval of large volume water allocations without a formal planning process.”

“AFANT has real concerns with the cumulative impact of this and past allocations of water extraction licences on the rivers relying on the Mataranka -Tindall aquifer; particularly the Roper River system which is entirely reliant on the aquifer for dry season flows.”

“AFANT has called for a halt to any further large volume water allocations until the completion of an approved water plan as required under the Northern Territory Governments commitment to the national water reforms on water planning and the Water Act.” Mr de With said.