Access to tidal waters on Aboriginal land in the NLC region

Date listed: 20/7/2019

The Full Council of the Northern Land Council has given notice that it will waive the requirement for a permit to access inter-tidal waters over Aboriginal-owned land for a further 18 months, until 31st December 2020.

Aboriginal land is privately owned. Around 84% or 6,050km of the coastline is owned by Traditional Aboriginal Owners. It is not Crown land and it is not public land. Permission must be obtained before going onto Aboriginal Land, in accordance with the Aboriginal Land Act and Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. This includes access to inter-tidal waters over Aboriginal land.

The NLC’s decision will not affect the existing agreements with the Northern Territory Government which allow permit-free access for commercial and recreational fishers in ‘high value’ fishing areas. This Public Notice promulgates an eighteen (18) month period to transition to requirements under the Aboriginal Land Act.

Steps towards a permanent and comprehensive settlement will continue over that period between the NLC and the Northern Territory Government and commercial and recreational fishers. For further information about inter-tidal access arrangements, visit the NLC website at



Under Section 5(8) of the Aboriginal Land Act

1. The Northern Land Council (NLC) gives notice, pursuant to section 5(8) of the Aboriginal Land Act, and subject to the restrictions or conditions in paragraphs [3], [4] and [5] below, that until 12:00am (CST) on 1 January 2021, the NLC waives the requirement for a permit to enter from the seaward side, the waters overlying Aboriginal land and which, more specifically, lie within the inter-tidal zone, being between the low water mark and the high water mark.

2. The areas where the NLC waives the requirement for a permit are delineated in yellow on the map entitled “Sea Country Access Map” which can be found on the NLC’s website at

3. A permit is required in relation to (the areas marked in red on the NLC map) being:

(a) those parts of the Daly River Port Keats Aboriginal Land Trust more particularly described as Cape Scott; and

(b) those parts of the Delissaville/Wagait/Larrakia Aboriginal Land Trust, more particularly described as the upper Finniss River.

4. A permit is required to enter and remain on Aboriginal land whether entry is by land or sea.

5. Access to the waters overlying Aboriginal land described at paragraph [1] above is subject to:

(a) any restricted access to sacred sites in accordance with the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act (refer to for information);

(b) closed sea areas adjoining and within 2 kilometres of Aboriginal land in accordance with section 12 of the Aboriginal Land Act, as hatched in red on the NLC map; and

(c) existing leases and licences granted pursuant to section 19 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) 1976.

6. Permit free access to the waters overlying Aboriginal land continues in those areas where access agreements are in force, as delineated in green on the NLC map and that continued access is unaffected by this notice.

7. There are special arrangements that apply to the Cox Peninsula – Kenbi Aboriginal Land Trust area – see the notice and map at

Warning: Persons enter Aboriginal land at their own risk. The relevant Aboriginal Land Trust and NLC accept no liability concerning this access to Aboriginal land.

NLC Contact: Bob Gosford 0448 226...

Darwin 0800