Atauro Island, Timor-Leste
Located 24 kilometers north of Dili, Atauro Island in Timor-Leste is known to have some of the most diverse coral reef ecosystems in the world. The waters around the island are also an important migratory channel for cetaceans, such as blue whales, in the Sawu Sea.
Atauro Island Integrated MPA
In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Dili District Government, and local communities, CTC is facilitating the establishment of an integrated Atauro Island MPA. The unified MPA will scale up the community-based marine reserves, earlier set up in the island at the district and national level, in order to promote effective MPA management and protect conservation targets that will also benefit the local communities. CTC laid the groundwork for developing the MPA by conducting a preliminary survey in March 2017 in collaboration with MAF. The survey provided baseline data on marine biodiversity in Atauro, as well as identifying several important species such as sharks, dolphins, whales, abundant reef fish, and sea turtles. Further surveys have expanded on this data, as well as surveyed local community reliance on marine resources, and their engagement with the MPA.
In September 2019, after a six year process, the proposed management plan and ministerial decree for the Atauro Island MPA were submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. These documents will form the legal basis for the sustainable management and conservation of the Island’s unique marine biodiversity.
Tara Bandu, a traditional Timorese custom that enforces peace and reconciliation through public agreement, is still in place in both Atauro Island and Liquica. Tara Bandu is being utilized as an effective bridge for institutional planning and implementation of MPA management in the two sites.
Capacity Building and Training
CTC, in collaboration with the Government of Timor-Leste through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, is helping to strengthen local capacity to manage the country’s marine resources, as well as to support the establishment of MPAs. CTC identified a need to build understanding and awareness amongst government and community representatives and MPA practitioners on topics related to marine biodiversity and integrated ecosystem-based management, the economic benefits of MPAs, and community facilitation. CTC’s training sessions are providing participants in Timor-Leste with a thorough background and up-to-date insights into the design, planning and management of MPAs, building local capacity so MPAs across Timor-Leste can be effectively managed.