Bioresources and Biotechnology
Australia’s Northern Territory, at 1.346 million square kilometres of land and 6 000 kilometres of coastline, plays host to a wide range of environments, rich in biodiversity across, marine, coastal, freshwater, tropical wetland, woodland and desert habitats. However, less than 1 per cent of the Territory’s land has been altered from its original form. This means that much of the Territory’s land mass and seas remain biologically unexplored.
To facilitate the process of biodiscovery, the Northern Territory Government has passed the Biological Resources Act 2011. The Act provides an open, enabling and transparent framework that is fully compliant with our obligations under the Convention of Biological Diversity and the Bonn Guidelines. When combined with the ability to issue Certificates of Provenance for samples and extracts, our framework is able to provide a level of certainty and attractiveness to global and domestic biodiscovery organisations which is not commonly available elsewhere.
As such, our unique biodiversity coupled with our policies and legislation provides the Territory with a strong point of differentiation. Our governance framework enables us through our access and benefit-sharing agreements, to provide an acceptable mechanism to allow Indigenous Territorians to share their traditional knowledge and potentially benefit from this new aspect of biotechnology. The Act and policies have been used as reference documents by several national and international jurisdictions.
Despite its small population, the Territory is also home to a sophisticated research community. This includes Charles Darwin University, the Menzies School of Health Research, research facilities of the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Bioscience North Australia consortium. Research and commercial development in the Northern Territory is further supported by Australia’s world-class intellectual property system and its broad experience in international commercial law.
Key Government Agency Contacts
Parks and Wildlife Service, Permits Service
The permits system helps the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service to monitor and manage native flora and fauna and to protect them against potential damage. For research into biological resources located on land a Permit to Undertake Scientific Research on Wildlife is required.
Parks and Wildlife Service Permits Office
Ground Floor, Goyder Centre
Chung Wah Terrace
PO Box 496
Palmerston NT 0830
Fisheries Licensing and Permits
The Department of Resources Fisheries Division administers the Fisheries Act. Under the Fisheries Act a Section 17 permit is required to take fish or aquatic life for research purposes.
Industry Development Branch, Department of Business (DoB)
In addition to promoting biotechnology activity in the Northern Territory, the Industry Development Branch of DoB administers the Biological Resources Act. The provisions of this Act are designed to ensure that Territorians benefit from research into commercial or industrial applications of the Northern Territory’s biological resources.
Content current at 20 July 2010.