30 Sep CTC Lays the Groundwork for a New Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Metinaro, Timor-Leste

To establish a new MPA Metinaro, CTC conducted a series of field surveys and a focus group discussion for key stakeholders in Timor-Leste, a Metinaro sub district in September 2022. This research provides baseline data  to develop an evidence-based outline in planning the MPA design.

A team led by CTC Marine Conservation Advisor Marthen Welly spent three days in Metinaro, from September 13 to 15, 2022, exploring the 23-kilometer coastline to collect data. They were assisted by some staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) of Timor-Leste and the MAF office at Manufahi Municipality. The activity is part of the Food and Agriculture Organization – Indonesian Sea Large Marine Ecosystem project, in which CTC is one of the implementing agencies which focuses on marine conservation and the establishment of a new MPA in Timor-Leste.

Important data collected during the field survey include the distribution of coastal ecosystems in the area, such as coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass meadows. In addition, the survey documented critical habitats of charismatic marine animals, including dugongs and sea turtles, and migratory routes for marine cetaceans. The team also identified coastal sedimentation processes and measured the quality of seawater according to salinity, temperature, and acidity (pH). The field survey also verified secondary data obtained from previous desktop studies.

In terms of socioeconomic aspects, CTC and the Timor-Leste MAF also identified fishing grounds for local fishers, diving and snorkeling spots, community residents, industries and fish landing docks. The team also noted several traditional customary areas where locals apply the local wisdom of “tara bandu” which governs the sustainable use of marine and other natural resources.

A focus group discussion with 16 community members enabled nine men and seven women involved in local marine industries to share their perspectives on  local livelihoods and recommendations for areas of interest which will inform planning  for the MPA in Metinaro. The plan will include MPA management and a zoning system to regulate animal protection areas, fishing grounds, aquacultures and marine tourism sites. Therefore, the establishment of the new MPA will benefit harmony between nature and humans in the long run.

Currently, CTC is analyzing the collected data which will  be presented to the government and relevant stakeholders through a national workshop in Dili in late  October. This presentation will also provide the opportunity for CTC to explain the  establishment design for the new MPA in Metinaro to generate further comments and feedback from stakeholders at the national level.

This work is part of CTC’s ongoing commitment to assisting the Timor-Leste government through the establishment of MPAs and additional capacity-building. Prior to the Metinaro field trip, the CTC team also conducted biophysics and socioeconomic surveys in June 2022 to support a new MPA in the Manufahi District, identifying capacity-building needs for local communities and government officials to support effective MPA management. Since 2013, the CTC has also assisted with  the establishment of MPAs in Atauro and Liquica.

Photos: Marthen Welly/CTC

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