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Sea Rights

On 30 July 2008 the High Court of Australia confirmed that traditional owners of the Blue Mud Bay region in north-east Arnhem Land, together with traditional owners of almost the entire Northern Territory coastline, have exclusive access rights to tidal waters overlying Aboriginal land.

The High Court’s decision is now the law in Australia.  The Court said that the same rules apply to Aboriginal land as to the water in the inter-tidal zone.  All access to land, beaches and the inter-tidal zone requires permission or a permit issued by the Northern Land Council.

This ruling covers 85 percent of the Northern Territory coastline.

Following the decision the Northern Land Council entered into an interim agreement, with the Northern Territory Government and industry stakeholders, to maintain existing arrangements until a lasting outcome.