18 Oct Timor-Leste’s New Samba Sembilan Marine Protected Area: A Milestone in Marine Biodiversity Conservation

Timor-Leste has officially announced a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Liquiçá Municipality. Named after a local hero, the Samba Sembilan MPA was declared early this year and covers more than 8,000 hectares of Liquiçá’s waters and marine ecosystems. Since 2017, CTC has supported the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Liquiçá Municipality of Timor-Leste and  local community in establishing the Samba Sembilan MPA. CTC congratulates the Timor-Leste government and people for this very important milestone in protecting its extraordinary marine biodiversity and contributing to the global goal to protect the world’s oceans by 2030.

CTC Executive Director, Rili Djohani, and CTC Marine Conservation Advisor, Marthen Welly, were invited to the inauguration ceremony of the new MPA and the Tara Bandu ceremony in the Samba Sembilan MPA in early September 2023. The Tara Bandu ceremony honored the customary laws of the community regarding the local marine resources and demonstrated the integration of traditional ecological knowledge into the conservation goals of the MPA. During the ceremony, Rili Djohani highlighted the marine biodiversity of Samba Sembilan MPA and the importance to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems for the livelihoods of the local communities

“The Tara Bandu could permanently close a coastal area to protect ecosystems and marine biotas inside or close and open an area in a certain period of time. It is also implemented to protect marine species. This traditional wisdom could be integrated to support MPA management,” said Marthen Welly, CTC’s Marine Conservation Adviser and Timor-Leste Program Lead.

CTC is proud to support the Timor-Leste government in its efforts to protect its marine resources and will continue to support the strengthening management of Samba Sembilan MPA in Liquiçá Municipality.  Through this ongoing partnership, we aspire to create a legacy of conservation and sustainable resource use that will benefit current and future generations alike.

Writers: Adam Putra, Marthen Welly
Photos: Rili Djohani/CTC and Marthen Welly/CTC

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