14 Sep Stronger Reef Health Monitoring Protocol for Integrated Atauro Island Marine Protected Area

To support the effective management of the newly established integrated Atauro Island marine protected area (MPA) in Timor-Leste, CTC has proposed a comprehensive Reef Health Monitoring (RHM) protocol. This protocol will provide guidelines for the monitoring team, as well as government partners and other working partners who are examining coral reefs and fish. So far, the protocol’s outline and key points have been agreed to by representatives of local and national authorities, as well as key stakeholders, during a recent hybrid workshop. 

CTC hosted the RHM Protocol Development Workshop for the integrated Atauro Island MPA on September 14, 2021, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Timor-Leste and the Fisheries Department of Dili Municipality. 

During his presentation, CTC’s Marine Conservation Advisor Marthen Welly highlighted three key components of effective MPA management: biophysics, socioeconomic considerations, and governance. The RHM monitoring is essential to assess the condition of coral reef ecosystems within  the MPA on a regular basis. Athorough RHM protocol is also crucial to ensure that monitoring processes are consistent  in their  methodologies. Effective methodologies include Line Intercept Transect (LIT), Point Intercept Transect (PIT), Quadrant Transect (QT) and Underwater Photo Transect (UPT). To measure marine resources, including fish biomass and density, the monitoring team can use Underwater Visual Census (UVC), Belt Transects, and Long Swim methods. CTC’s MPA Learning Site Manager Purwanto explained these methods at the conference. Audience members were also prompted to consider the purpose of monitoring, how site characteristics affect the monitoring process, monitoring frequency (annual or semester), monitoring  logistics, and how to recruit and train competent personnel to carry out the process.

Mr. Acácio Guterres, the Directorate General of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Resources of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Timor-Leste, in his opening remarks, expressed his appreciation for the cooperation between all governmental institutions and non-government organizations, including CTC, involved in ensuring the integrated Atauro Island MPA network can be managed effectively. He also expressed that he expects that the RHM protocol and results from the monitoring surveys will be effective and well-disseminated among/wisely by related stakeholders.

The integrated Atauro Island MPA consists of five zones: the core zone, marine tourism zone, temporary protected zone, aquaculture zone and sustainable fisheries zone. Regulations are also applied in each zone, restricting certain activities to protect the island’s unique marine biodiversity, ecosystems and ensuring sustainable management of the MPA. (*)

Photos: Government of Timor-Leste & Mike Veitch

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