13 Oct Biophysic and Socioeconmic Surveys Conducted to Support MPA Establishment in Timor-Leste

Coral Triangle Center (CTC) in partnership with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), completed biophysic and socioeconomic surveys in both Atauro Island and Liquica from 3-11 October, 2017. The aim of these surveys was to collect data both on land with communities as well as underwater to help aid in the creation of a future network of potential Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for one of the six Coral Triangle nations, Timor-Leste.

CTC worked in collaboration with MAF to engage the local community members with all surveys to not only educate the people on the process, but also to solicit their advice to be certain the island was surveyed in its entirety. During the team’s time spent in Timor-Leste, the local communities seemed to enjoy the method of working together to gather data, as well as to learn about the process involved.

How did we do it?

Upon arrival, two initial meetings took place in the villages over two days for a general introduction and welcoming. This resulted in an impressive village attendance of over 77 people. Land based socioeconomic surveys were carried out and worked well in engaging the local villagers and communities to share ideas and develop long term strategic goals for their island. Village communities were visited daily and members were surveyed via interviews as well as group meetings for discussions. The activities presented were designed to get people out of their seats and engage them in discussion and to physically create maps of their many island resources.

For Reef Health Monitoring (RHM) we selected biophysic survey sites on Atauro Island based on initial manta tow data conducted by CTC in 2014 with the MAF team and also based on information from local communities as well as from MAF-Timor- Leste. A manta tow was completed prior to RHM in Liquicia in order to choose the best areas for more detailed RHM surveys.

What did we find?

Although data is still being compiled, generally, the team noticed unique and many biodiverse spots for both coral and fishes. In some locations, the Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrot fish were sited. Marine megafauna such as cetaceans were sighted topside on the way to the island and as well during RHM dives. Around the island, the RHM sites were quite different, but also all showcased the beauty of the coral reef and fish diversity.

The west side of the island provided unique wall dives and areas to view large pelagic fishes, while the east side of the island showcased hard branching corals with and more subtle sloping reef slopes. Generally speaking, the corals appeared healthy with little bleaching or disease recorded combined with of evidence of new growth.

Next Steps

The MAF and community members will be debriefed on the findings of the survey results. Currently, the teams are working on data analysis with a goal to have a detailed report shortly. This was a successful project that not only produced high quality data for the island people, but also strengthened and developed relationships between CTC, MAF, villagers as well as various stakeholders.

The Atauro Island (AI) team was primarily comprised of: Mr. Elias Morato (AI), Mr. Jose Guereiro (AI), Mr. Marcelo Belo (AI), Mr. Duarte Tilman (AI), Mr. Jose Monteiro (MAF), Mr. Orlando Kalis (MAF), Mr. Constancio (CTC Timor-Leste), Mr. Wira Sanjaya (CTC-Bali), Ms. Melannie Bachman (CTC), Mr. Andreas Muljadi (CTC), Mr. Arief Darmawan (CTC), Mr. Reza Pahlevi (CTC), and Mr. Ollie Clarke (Compass Dive).

The Liquica (LQ) survey team was primarily comprised of: Mr. Gustavo (LQ), Mr. Orlando Kalis (MAF), Mr. Lino de Jesus (MAF), Mr. Jose Monteiro (MAF), Mr. Fernando da Silva (MAF), Mr. Constancio (CTC), Mr. Wira Sanjaya (CTC), Mr. Andreas Muljadi CTC), Mr. Arief Darmawan (CTC), Mr. Reza Pahlevi (CCTC), and Mr. Ollie Clarke (Compass Dive).

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