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For more than three years, the $24 million INPEXoperated Ichthys LNG coastal management offset program, in collaboration with the Northern Territory Government, has been delivering social and environmental outcomes in coastal communities across the Top End.

The 2023 Ichthys Coastal Management Offset grants tranche of the Aboriginal Ranger Grant Program (ARGP) saw more than $2 million in project funding and capital grants awarded to Top End ranger groups to support conservation management of dugongs, cetaceans and other marine matters of national environmental significance.

Larrakia Rangers were successful in applying for a new, larger vessel to undertake important dolphin and shore bird survey work in Darwin Harbour and Shoal Bay.

Ranger Manager Ben Smith says the new vessel will increase the capacity of the rangers.

“We expect this will significantly increase our range and enable crews to spend more time onboard the vessel, as it’s designed to keep crews dry in heavy seas and will have bathroom facilities onboard.

“This new vessel is designed to move large turtles on and off the deck for tagging and sampling, which will be safer for us and the turtles.”

Tiwi Rangers undertook seagrass surveys by helicopter in the intertidal zones along the northern coastline of the Tiwi Islands during 2023, with the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program funding support.

This newly funded project will allow the Tiwi Rangers to expand their survey work, recording and monitoring seagrass in the subtidal zones via boat using underwater monitoring techniques.

Tiwi Ranger and Traditional Owner Derek Puruntatameri welcomed the funding announcements.

“Funding for several projects has included the survey and monitoring of feral pig numbers on the Tiwi Islands, undertaking olive ridley turtle nesting monitoring on Melville Island and seagrass monitoring in collaboration with scientists from Charles Darwin University and James Cook University.


“Turtles and dugongs have significant cultural and conservation significance on the Tiwi Islands and this project will enhance understanding by examining their habitat.”

Understanding marine habitats is crucial to upholding the Tiwi Islanders’ commitment to sustainable Sea Country management. This project supports Tiwi Islander aspirations for conservation and management, ranger employment, connection to Country, participating in a blue carbon economy, and informed decision-making. Anindilyakwa Land & Sea Rangers’ application to develop a Sea Country Management Plan under the Ichthys LNG Coastal Management Offset Fund grants was also successful in the 2023 funding round.

Situated in the northwest Gulf of Carpentaria in East Arnhem Land, the Anindilyakwa Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) encompasses the Groote archipelago, which includes Groote Eylandt, Bickerton Island and more than 40 smaller, low-lying islands.

IPA Operations Coordinator Kirsten Eden says the collaborative project will help with strategic long-term planning and management of Sea Country in the IPA.

“We are very excited to start this project in conjunction with our key Sea Country stakeholders, Australian Institute of Marine Science, University of Technology Sydney and Charles Darwin University.

“The hope is to have the Sea Country Management Plan complement our IPA Plan of Management and our Threatened Species Management Plan. This plan will help inform our Sea Country Management activities in line with Traditional Owner input and local cultural knowledge.”

INPEX General Manager Stuart Knowles says: “I would like to congratulate all of the organisations on securing funding for these significant projects and thank you for the invaluable work you do, caring for Country.

“The program enables groups to apply for capital funding for assets such as vessels, vehicles, trailers and other equipment to support the critical work undertaken by Aboriginal Rangers in caring for the Territory’s pristine coastlines including ghostnet and marine debris removal, species monitoring and feral animal control.

“Not only does this program deliver environmental benefits, it also provides opportunities for Aboriginal rangers to work on Country, supporting broader social and economic outcomes for the Territory.”

NT Minister for Parks and Rangers Selena Uibo says: “This program builds strong Aboriginal leadership and organisational governance, and these grants will see these opportunities and jobs grow.”