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A social group of dedicated fly fishers who are passionate about fly fishing in the tropical north of Australia and equally as passionate about the close camaraderie this sport brings. This passion and dedication led to the creation of the NT Flyfishers Social Mob blog site; an interactive and creative outlet where everyone can share our wonderful fly fishing adventures and link into the “after fishing” social events we enjoy in this incredible part of the world.

Sunday, 1 January 2017


It looks like a great deal of the inter-tidal waters of the NT are about to have more restrictions put on them, when in the view of many, there should be fewer, if any restrictions for recreational fishers on these waters.

Elizabeth I
“The use of sea and air is common to all; neither can a title to the ocean belong to any people or private persons, forasmuch as neither nature nor public use and custom permit any possession therof.” 
― Elizabeth I
Recent Media/information releases from the Northern Lands Council (NLC) in relation to access to these inter- tidal waters over Aboriginal Lands in 2017 state that Permits will be required. The problem that confuses some of us is, if ONE (1) permit will cover all areas, or do we have to obtain different ones from each of the (around 200 I'm told) Traditional Owners (TO's), cost, where do we get the permits, and who will Police them considering that from 1st January, " Aquatic biosecurity powers will be strengthened and Aboriginal marine rangers will be able to become fisheries inspectors under changes to the Fisheries Act." ....(fisheries have the power to seize property, vessels etc. in some cases) so there will be more police/inspectors on the water.
Don't forget the fishing gear?
To bring you  up date....you may recall our post of the 6th August 2016 "Where will we be able to fish for the Million dollar fish around Bynoe"    (click to go to link).    At that stage the concerns over fishing the inter-tidal waters of Bynoe were, and still are a worry. Many of us obtained permits which expire "two months after the High Courts Determination of the Mud Bay proceedings".  

These permits were as a result of the interim agreement put in place in 2007 and as it appears from the latest of these Media/Information releases the NLC is seeking that these proceedings be finalised, these permit will now apparently be null and void. So what happens now?

On the 20 December 2016 the Northern Land Council (NLC) put out a media release confirming the closures under the Kenbi agreement and adding that permits will apparently be required for other areas too that would be closed to recreational fishers. The implementation of the necessity for permits was waived until the lst of July 2017.  See below for the first of the info.  or click on this link for the full NLC information sheets Sea/Country Rights

and here is the map that goes with this...

The conditions of the Kenbi claim for inter-tidal waters in Bynoe are still the same and I have highlighted that part of the information sheet...you must have a permit for these areas  no matter the arrangements made for the other areas.

whilst the map in the link above specifically marks the areas in Ida Bay that a permit is required it also marks a line along the adjoining coast where it allows fishing in the inter-tidal zone either side of  Ida Bay, but not so around Knife and Crocodile Islands and this is the inter-tidal area referred to for those islands in the picture below.

Note: In the original Kenbi claim in papers from the Courts (click for link )  Justice Toohey identifies the land claim and says this. "It appears to extend more or less uniformly out in all directions (excluding the sea) "  The 'sea' appears to have been added as a result of the Mud Bay decision but I can't verify that without reading more reams of court documents.

The 'Red' area is the ínter-tidal'area from Admiratly charts...it has been coloured red to highlight it even more in this picture.
For us fly fishers these inter-tidal areas or flats are the main area we sight fish, and most of our fishing is 'catch and release' with no real impact on the area, but I fear that we will suffer the most if the sensible decisions are not made. This has already been pointed out to the powers that be and in my opinion, arrogantly brushed off.

The responses were comical in some sense, here is a post from facebook as to what one of the main Recreational Fishing Organisations representative told us would apply??"

"Anything above the low tide mark is out of bounds (Name) but because the low tide mark is variable the average (mean) low tide mark is used for prosecution.  This information is up to the individual to determine and is not released to the public."

It was pointed out to him that the 'green' colour on charts is based on the surveys that form the Admiralty charts and indicates the inter-tidal zone, based on the 'mean' tides...this diagram shows the colours used and the arrows on the right indicated the tidal heights used.

 You can see that the tide may go higher or lower than the arrow, but they, the Admiralty use the 'mean' so contary to the information, the inter-tidal information is available to the individual and I'm sure the Courts would use the 'Reasonable Man' test, so that if you were on the edge of the green without a permit, you may be right, but right in the centre you may have trouble.  The Organisation did say that signs with GPS co-ordinates would be put up ?????

I feel that the concerns we tried to express in our August 2016 post were just brushed aside as the possible ravings of an old fool, they may have been right and I hope they were, but this is still a concern to a lot of us...but from my point of view a cartoon I saw on a post to the Minister the other day captures it all up until now....

Just to give you and idea of some of the impact locally under the new changes from July 2017 the inter- tidal areas (ie the parts marked in green in the maps below) are closed to those without a permit and there are more..

The green area, ie. gives and idea of the inter-tidal area at the mouth of the Finnis that requires a permit from July 2017

The green area which indicates the inter-tidal zone around the Perons...
I wonder what all this will do to tourism, the way it is playing out now and unless some common sense applies like allowing recreational fishing in all inter-tidal waters,  just imagine the poor old tourist or 'Grey Ghost' drives all the way up here camps at a place in Bynoe/Dundee and puts his small boat in to fish around the nearby harbour but strays into the inter-tidal zones that requires a permit by mistake.

Will he be fined, could his boat etc be confiscated, how will he know where he can go and not go or where to get a permit and who from.  CONFUSING ISN'T IT.

The 'Grey Ghost' and the tourists might just become that....ghosts and we may not see many of them.

The Guides they will have to have permits, how many I don't know and then be able to identify their clients or at least the number.   I BET THERE WILL BE A COST IN THAT.

Sadly I expect political finger pointing, blaming, bureaucratic bungling, arrogance, apathy and greed to control the decisions made.


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