18 Mar Scientific Surveys to Establish New Marine Protected Areas in Timor-Leste

What is it that you like to do when you arrive in a destination with sandy beaches filled with natural beauty? Do you enjoy the scenery, taste the saltwater, go for the cultural experience, or maybe all three? Here at Coral Triangle Center, we love to jump into the ocean and survey the underwater richness!

CTC’s team of experts and consultants led by Marthen Welly, Purwanto, Wira Sanjaya and Andreas Muljadi were in Manufahi Municipality in Timor-Leste last month to conduct a biophysical survey that covered three coastal sub-district: Same, Alas and Fatuberliu. Located in the southern part of Timor-Leste, these locations showed promise of a wealthy diversity. On March 3-18, 2022, the team set out on a manta tow survey along 46 kilometers of the coastline to identify six Areas of Interest (AOI). These six AOI were explored further using SCUBA equipment. Corals were observed using Point Intercept Transect (PIT) and fish were observed using Underwater Visual Census (UVC). Through the underwater surveys, a temporary result was obtained, showing two ‘fair’ and four ‘good’ conditions of coral reef ranging from 30-70% coral cover. The team also observed an abundance of fish biomass. During the survey, many red snappers, giant groupers longer than 100 centimeters, Napoleons and see turtles were encountered. According to the local fishermen, the areas were also known for manta rays, cetaceans and sharks to roam around.

At the same time, a socio-economic team lead by a pair of CTC’s consultants, Rafael Gonçalves and Lino de Jesus Martins, visited six fishermen villages to do a purposive sampling interview with a total of 42 respondents consisting of village leaders, fishermen and women representatives. A sustainable financing plan development team from Marine Change conducted an additional survey related to capacity and financing potential by identifying the state of tourism, corporation and both public and government funding. We also had the pleasure of the company of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) of Timor-Leste, the Manufahi government and a team from UNDP Timor-Leste during the survey.

These surveys are supported by UNDP Timor-Leste in collaboration with MAF of Timor-Leste. The survey results will be submitted as scientific baseline input for new MPA design in Manufahi Municipality, Timor-Leste. We will keep you updated on our work and positive impact on the beautiful coasts of Manufahi, so stay tuned to our stories from the Coral Triangle.


Photo credit: Marthen Welly/CTC

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