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Love Darwin Harbour

Beautiful Darwin Harbour is loved by Territorians. Experiencing the Harbour is an integral part of what it means to live in the Top End.

The Larrakia people have cared for the harbour for millennia and continue to do so today with a busy ranger team working tirelessly to keep it in good shape.

The Harbour is vast and vibrant, at 50km long with three large arms that are swept daily by racing eight metre tides. The shoreline is bustling with the most diverse mangrove forest in the North, supporting a resilient mud crab and barramundi fishery. Beneath the waves, seagrass meadows support herds of dugongs and coral reefs host schools of golden snapper and mulloway.

The harbour is a key part of the Territory economy as it is the most visited recreational fishing area and hosts many fishing tours, sunset cruises, and sailing regattas. Most of the Territory’s aquaculture industry relies on a healthy Darwin Harbour as it supports hatcheries for oysters, sea cucumbers, giant clams, prawns, and the pearling industry.

We have seen significant changes to the Harbour over the past twenty years, mainly from the construction of two big LNG plants and the development of East Arm wharf. Environmental impacts such as air and water pollution, dredging and huge increases in shipping traffic have eaten away at the harbour’s ecology.

But even greater change is brewing. Big plans are being drawn up right now that will more than double the amount of industrial development in the harbour. The NT Government is pushing ahead to create the Middle Arm 'Sustainable Development Precinct' - a petrochemicals hub using fracked gas as a feedstock. A recent report into the potential health impacts of the precinct found that it could lead to:

  • increased industrial fine particulate emissions by 513% in the region, resulting in $75 million of additional health impacts, equivalent to 15 additional premature deaths per year
  • increased industrial cancer hazard in the region four-fold
  • 800% increase in carbon monoxide releases in the Greater Darwin Region, as well as massive increases in releases of other harmful chemicals that have been linked to heart disease, respiratory conditions, and stroke.
  • increased greenhouse gas emissions in the Territory by 75%

But it doesn't have to be this way. If we get the process right, we can ensure that development at Darwin Harbour is non-polluting, sustainable, and safeguard the air and water quality for future generations. The alternative is the vision being touted by the gas industry: a multi-billion-dollar petrochemicals hub at Middle Arm, producing ammonium, methanol, urea, and ethane (plastics). Residents of Darwin and Palmerston want jobs for the future that are good for people and maintain a healthy harbour. 

Now more than ever, Territorians must speak up and defend their healthy harbour and protect their right to clean air and water. Join us and show your love for Darwin Harbour!

Read Michael Petroni's expert report on potential environmental and human health impacts of the Arm precinct here.