NT09- Special and W09- Special
The areas overlap a Military Exercise Area (the North Australia Exercise Area, NAXA) including R264G for W09-Special and R264G & K for NT09-Special. These areas are used by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for all military operations including live weapons and missile firings. Applicants are advised that defence exercise schedules are variable and may change at short notice.
Successful applicants will need to liaise closely with the RAAF and RAN on timing and location of any proposed exploration activities or permanent structures during the planning phase.
The special release areas also lie in close proximity to Defence Practice Areas (DFA). Access to DFAs may also be restricted and potential applicants should be aware that all sea and air craft can be ordered to evacuate a DFA at short notice
Potential applicants should also note that, as the above areas are used for live firings, unexploded ordnance may exist on the sea floor. This carries with it an associated risk of detonation, which will be borne by the applicants. As such, the Australian Government provides no guarantee or indemnity to title holders or others with regard to the safety or whereabouts of unexploded ordnance in such areas.
The areas also coincide with military restricted airspace areas (R264G & K). When activated by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), the restricted airspace can operate down to sea level. Successful applicants will need to liaise with the Department of Defence during the planning phase of operations and to provide information on the proposed location of any drilling rigs for inclusion on the register of structures database that is maintained by the Royal Australian Air Force Aeronautical Information Service (RAAF AIS).
Contact details for the various Defence activities are set out under Notices for All Areas.
The Northern Prawn Fishery and the Western Tuna and Billfish Fisheries extend across the special release areas. They coincide with an especially important fishing area for the Northern Prawn Fishery with highest activity from April to late May and from August to late November. Accordingly, due to extensive fishing activity during the periods mentioned, successful applicants will need to liaise with representatives of both fisheries, but particularly with the Northern Prawn Fishery at an early stage in planning operational activities for these areas.
In addition, several Northern Territory based fisheries operate across these areas including: Spanish Mackerel, Demersal, Aquarium, Offshore Net and Line and Pearl Oyster Fisheries. Successful applicants will also need to liaise with the Northern Territory Seafood Council at an early stage in planning operational activities, including their exploration strategy, for this area.
Chief Executive Officer
Northern Territory Seafood Council
GPO Box 618
Darwin NT 0801
Telephone: +61 8 8981 5194
Facsimile: +61 8 8981 5063
Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)may utilise the proposed special release areas as part of their migratory route between July and October. The species is listed as both vulnerable and migratory under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
All exploration activities in these areas should be planned in accordance with the EPBC Act Policy Statement 2.1 – Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales (September 2008), as prepared by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, in consultation with industry and other stakeholders. The Policy Statement outlines standard management measures (Part A) that should be used at all times when operating seismic surveys in Australian waters. Successful applicants should consider implementing additional management measures (Part B) when operating in areas and at times where there is a moderate to high likelihood of encountering whales.
The proposed special release areas are in the vicinity of three listed wetlands of international importance (Ramsar listed wetlands): Kakadu (Stage 1 and 3), Lake Argyle and Lake Kununurra and the Ord River Floodplain. Hydrocarbon spills may pose a risk to the values of declared Ramsar wetlands. Applicants should be aware that any proposed exploration and development activities are likely to be subject to a high level of environmental scrutiny, and may require assessment and approval under the EPBC Act. Further information on Australian wetlands is available on the Australian Wetlands Database: www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/environmental/wetlands/database/index.html
The Flatback turtle (N. depressus) is listed as vulnerable and migratory under the EPBC Act and is endemic to northern Australian waters. Flatback turtles nest at Cape Domett in Western Australia which is located to the south of W09-special. At Cape Domett, nesting occurs year round with a peak in winter. It is therefore likely that this species will be encountered in W09-special during inter-nesting and post-nesting migration and/or feeding.
W09-special is located within the East Asian-Australasian Flyway which is a migration path used by millions of migratory shorebirds each year. Migratory shorebirds are protected as migratory species under the EPBC Act. Peak migration times are October and April.
The Joseph Bonaparte Gulf provides important breeding, feeding and roosting areas for populations of migratory shorebirds. The White-winged tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) has significant roosting and feeding aggregations and may occasionally hunt in offshore waters. The Great egret (Ardea alba) has significant breeding colonies at the head of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, with breeding occurring during February to August. These migratory species may be encountered in the proposed acreage release area during their northern/southern migration.
The Flatback turtle (N. depressus) is listed as vulnerable and migratory under the EPBC Act and is endemic to northern Australian waters. It has significant nesting sites located at Turtle Point (NT) and medium density nesting sites located from Pearce Point to Dorcherty Island, adjacent to the proposed acreage release area. Flatback turtle nesting at Turtle Point occurs from February to November with peak nesting occurring from June to September. Nesting of Flatback turtles from Pearce Point to Dorcherty Island occurs from March to October with peak nesting from May to September (Chatto and Baker, 2008). It is therefore likely this species will be encountered in NT09-special during inter-nesting and post nesting migration and/or feeding.
NT09-special is located within the East Asian-Australasian Flyway which is a migration path used by millions of migratory shorebirds each year. Migratory shorebirds are protected as migratory species under the EPBC Act. Peak migration times are October and April. The southern boundary of NT09-special is adjacent to areas in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf which provides important breeding, feeding and roosting areas for populations of migratory shorebirds. Turtle Point supports significant migratory shorebird roosts of Terek sandpiper (Xenus cinereus), Greater sand plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) and Lesser sand plover (Charadrius mongolus), Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres), Sanderling (Calidris alba) and Broad-billed sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus) predominantly between September to March. The White-winged tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) has significant roosting and feeding aggregations and may occasionally hunt in offshore waters. The Great egret (Ardea alba) has significant breeding colonies at the head of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf with breeding occurring during February to August. These migratory species may be encountered in the proposed acreage release area during their northern/southern migration.