14 Jun Survey Results Outreach and Capacity-building Assessment in Timor-Leste

Last month, our team was excited to visit Timor-Leste in a series of trips. Our key objectives were to present the results of biophysics and socioeconomic surveys to support the establishment of a new marine protected area (MPA) candidate in Manufahi District, as well as to identify capacity-building needs at the community and governmental levels to further support effective MPA management.

CTC’s Marine Conservation Advisor Marthen Welly began a week-long visit, from June 7 to 14, 2022, to the Manufahi District in the southern part of Timor-Leste, together with several consultants and local government staff. The workshop in Manufahi was attended by 36 people, who represent local fishing groups, community conservation groups, village leaders, municipality and central government representatives, and UNDP Timor-Leste.

The biophysical survey findings from March 2022 reported, coral cover ranging from 30 to 70 percent, with CTC reported two coral reefs displaying “fair” and four coral reefs displaying “good”. The CTC team also noted an abundance of fish biomass, including large groupers and red snappers with bodies longer than 100 cm. The encounter with Napoleon fish and sea turtles, as well as the discovery of other charismatic marine creatures like manta rays, whales, and sharks, were also emphasized by the CTC team.

“Our expert Andreas Muljadi also presented the first draft of outer boundaries for the proposed MPA in Manufahi, including the no-take zone within the area. Using two scenarios for the new MPA’s outer boundaries, which are 1 and 2 nautical miles apart, the estimated coverage area of Manufahi MPA is 13,000 hectares and 20,000 hectares, respectively,” stated Marthen Welly.

On the other hand, the findings from the socioeconomic survey, which included 42 respondents from six fishing villages in Manufahi District, highlighted the need for a sustainable finance strategy to help the local economy and the sustainability of local fisheries, which are still dominated by traditional methods. In general, community representatives gave their support for the establishment of Manufahi MPA. However, it is necessary to further discuss the integration of the MPA regulation with traditional marine tenure systems called “Tara Bandu”, as well as alternative livelihood programs for local fishers.

Our team also had the opportunity to visit the Nino-Konis Santana protected area (NKS PA), situated at the easternmost point of Timor-Leste. The team engaged with stakeholders from Com, Tutuala, and Laurei Villages, as well as from Lautem Municipality. Community representatives provided recommendations, such as, the need to update conservation data, increase local capacity, and determine the legal, management, and sustainable financing mechanisms for the NKS PA.

The CTC training and learning team followed through on this advice by assessing the need for capacity building in at least three MPAs in Timor-Leste near the end of June. Over the course of a week, from June 21 to June 29, 2022, the team met 47 respondents including personnel and managers from the Nino-Konis Santana, Atauro, and Liquica MPAs.

According to the assessment’s findings, the following topics were the most requested by respondents: monitoring of the endangered, threatened, and protected (ETP) species, MPA fundamental and management, coastal ecosystem ecology, and marine wildlife tourism. CTC will further discuss the technical aspects of delivering capacity-building activities with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) of Timor-Leste. Since 2013, the CTC has committed to assisting the Timor-Leste government through capacity-building and the establishment of MPAs in Atauro and Liquica. (*)

Photo by Marthen Welly/CTC and Aulia Priandina/CTC

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