27 Nov Manufahi Marine Protected Area Takes Next Step Towards Establishment

CTC is pleased to announce that we have prepared a draft Ministerial Decree for the newly established marine protected area (MPA) in Manufahi Municipality, southern Timor-Leste. This marks a significant milestone in our support for on-the-ground marine conservation in the country. With the submission of the draft to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Timor-Leste, there  is hope that the Manufahi MPA will be officially declared by 2023.

The draft document identifies the Manufahi MPA as a total area of 20,900 hectares with an outer boundary of two nautical miles. It also sets out the legal framework for the Manufahi MPA, including conservation targets, management objectives, zoning systems and regulations, management plan and unit structure, and sustainable financing plan. The draft also identifies key stakeholders involved in the MPA management, such as local coastal communities, traditional and village leaders, national and local governments, and non-governmental organizations.

CTC has been heavily involved in establishing Manufahi MPA since early 2022. In collaboration with Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), Manufahi Municipality government and local community, CTC facilitates multiple surveys of coral reefs, as well as biophysical and socio-economic indicators as scientific input to the new MPA design. In addition, stakeholder consultation works to determine conservation targets and the positioning of the outer boundary of the MPA, the development of zoning systems, management unit structure and management plan document, as well as the development of a sustainable financing plan for new MPA in Manufahi.

In order to ensure the legality of the Manufahi MPA, CTC prepared the draft Ministerial decree in partnership with the MAF of Timor-Leste and Manufahi Municipality, under the UNDP Timor-Leste ATSEA-2 project. For the past year, we have provided technical advice and assistance on best practice marine conservation principles to ensure that this newly established protected area is managed effectively for both people and nature. 

The conservation targets in Manufahi MPA include coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass, sea turtle, dugong and cetacean. The main goals of the MPA are to protect and restore the ecosystem and critical species by controlling fishing activities, preventing pollution, and developing measures for sustainable use. Additionally, the new MPA seeks to increase public awareness about marine conservation and promote responsible tourism practices in the area.

The new MPA in Manufahi will contribute 10% to the protection of national marine area in Timor-Leste. The Manufahi MPA is the first of its kind tol integrate the MPA regulation with traditional marine tenure systems called ‘Tara Bandu’. This unique initiative harmonizes community-based conservation, traditional marine tenure systems and scientific evidence in order to protect the coastal and marine ecosystems of Manufahi Municipality.

The ‘Tara Bandu’ system calls for the establishment of co-management committees composed of representatives from each village who will be responsible for monitoring threats such as illegal fishing or pollution on their respective territories. Furthermore, it provides for specific regulations governing access rights to different resources, such as fisheries and coastal ecosystems.

CTC has also made advancements in the preparation of the Nino Konis Santana Protected Area management plan. The document provides guidance on monitoring activities for evaluating management effectiveness in the area. It also contains recommendations for further research and development to ensure long-term sustainability and resilience in managing the marine ecosystem within the boundaries of this protected area. As of November 2022, the plan is ready for submission to the MAF of Timor-Leste. Situated at the easternmost point of the Timor Island, the Nino Konis Santana Protected Area covers 68.000 hectares of terrestrial and 63.500 hectares of marine areas.

With the establishment of these two new MPAs in Timor-Leste, CTC helps local and national governments to meet the global campaign of “30×30” which aims to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. We will continue advancing marine conservation in the Coral Triangle region.

Text: Marthen Welly & Yoga Putra
Photo: Kasman/CTC & Lino de Jesus Martin

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