24 Mar CTC Leads Regional and National Consultations for the Proposed Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS) MPA Network and Sea Turtle Action Plan
The ecosystems of the Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS) play an important ecological and economic role for the countries bordering its waters, which include Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Australia. Thus, collaboration is urgently needed to ensure their protection. In March 2021, CTC, in partnership with the ATSEA-2 Regional Project Management Unit and Yayasan Konservasi Alam Indonesia (YKAN), led a series of national and regional consultations for a proposed a new road map for a marine protected area (MPA) network and an action plan for sea turtle protection, which are envisioned to facilitate regional collaboration in managing coastal and marine resources in the ATS.
Since 2020, CTC has been working with YKAN and Dr. Alison Green MPA design expert, for the development of a MPA network design for the ATS by conducting a gap analysis and using the best available science, data and MPA design practices to identify potential gaps in the MPA network in the region. To do this, the team sought advice from the four national governments to help guide the process by providing advice on their priorities and interests, and providing relevant spatial data. The resulting MPA network design includes existing and proposed MPAs and identifies areas of interest for establishing new or expanded MPAs to fill gaps in the existing regional MPA network, for consideration by the relevant countries. species, incorporating connectivity and adapting to climate change.
CTC has also been working with sea turtle expert Dr. Nicholas Pilcher to develop a regional sea turtle action plan to protect priority coastal and marine habitats and conserve protected species in the ATS.
For the sea turtle action plan, data analysis and consultations with scientists from each country was undertaken. Following this, an eight-point action plan was developed that can be implemented in a five-year period. The action plan proposes key actions such as strengthening indigenous community management, assessing and mitigating bycatch, preventing discarded fishing gear, conducting baseline assessments of nesting sites, take and key locations, and the development of a funding strategy.
In developing these important documents, we have prioritized identifying and analyzing the best and most up-to-date data available. However, the draft documents need input, validation and confirmation from ATS countries to ensure that they are valid and comprehensive, and they need validation and input from key stakeholders across the ATS countries. The involvement of each country is important in the planning, implementation and monitoring evaluation processes to ensure that each country’s interests, plans and targets in their coastal and marine area are well addressed and represented.
The ATS has a range of shallow- and deep-water marine habitats such as coral reef, seagrass, mangrove, seamount, and trench. Socio-economically, the ATS is important as a fishing ground for pelagic fish (small and big) and prawns, marine tourism and as a seat of traditional culture.