Programs & Projects
The Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action Program (ATSEA)

The Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action Program (ATSEA)

Programs & Projects
Rapid development, destructive fishing, and climate change all threaten Timor-Leste's precious marine resources and pose challenges to food security for the small nation. (Photo by: © World Wildlife Fund, Inc. / Matthew Abbott)

Rapid development, destructive fishing, and climate change all threaten Timor-Leste’s precious marine resources and pose challenges to food security for the small nation.
(Photo by: © World Wildlife Fund, Inc. / Matthew Abbott)

The Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action (ATSEA) program strengthens the collaborative management of the marine and coastal living and non-living resources of Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste.

The warm, tropical waters of the Arafura and Timor Seas is one of the last remaining centers of tropical marine biodiversity which is extremely rich in living and non-living marine resources. This includes major fisheries and oil and gas reserves. Located in the Southeast Asia-Australia region, the Arafura and Timor seas are shared by Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Timor-Leste and provide a linkage between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and consequently plays a crucial role in global ocean circulation.

Approximately 4.1 million people live in the region and the region is extremely ethnically diverse. The level of development and social and economic status of people living in the region varies considerably across the districts and countries. Notwithstanding, there are high levels of poverty in the region, notably amongst the fishing communities.

The annual production from fisheries in the Arafura and Timor Seas is very difficult to estimate, given existing gaps in data collection and analysis, and the high illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing in this region. In addition, other threats persists, such as potential of increased incidence of natural threats associated with climate change as well as rapidly expanding coastal populations, increasing urbanizations, high level of poverty and limited economic opportunities which can increase exploitative pressures on natural resources, degradation of coastal habitats, marine pollutions form both land and sea based sources, and aquatic invasive species.

In response to the above challenges, in 2003, stakeholders in the region established the Arafura and Timor Seas Expert Forum (ATSEF), to increase data exchange and scientific collaboration. In addition to ATSEF, the countries of the region participate in many multi-lateral initiatives aimed at strengthening collaborative management of their marine and coastal living and non-living resources. Notable amongst these initiatives is the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security and the Regional Plan of Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices including Combating IUU Fishing in the Region.

During 2006 – 2007, ATSEF developed a bid for funding under the United National Global Environment Facility (GEF) knows as the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action (ATSEA) program. On May 14th 2010, ATSEA program was officially started. ATSEA program is a manifestation of further effort at understanding and addressing existing problems at Arafura and Timor Seas by ATSEF, undertaking a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA), development of a Strategic Action Programme (SAP), and implementation of innovative demonstration project.

The Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Actions Program (the “ATSEA Project”) aims to support ATSEF and other related initiatives. The ATSEA Project aims to ensure the integrated, cooperative, sustainable, ecosystem-based management and use of the living coastal and marine resources, including fisheries and biodiversity, of the Arafura and Timor Seas. The ATSEA Project is financed by GEF, UNDP and international NGOs, and is co-financed by the Governments of Australia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

The ATSEA Project is designed to achieve four substantive Outcomes, as follows:

  • An approved Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) which identifies the transboundary priority environmental problems, environmental & socio-economic impacts, sectoral and root causes and governance analyses;
  • A Regional Strategic Action Programme (SAP) and National Action Plans (NAPs) agreed and adopted at the national (inter-ministerial) and regional (inter-governmental) levels;
  • Initial implementation of some SAP and NAP components, through targeted Demonstration Projects addressing high priority transboundary issues identified by the TDA, to demonstrate the capacity of the littoral nations to cooperate in implementing joint activities, as the foundation for full SAP implementation in a future phase/follow-up project;
  • A Regional cooperation mechanism. This has two parts. First is to develop and strengthen ATSEF as an effective regional mechanism for the cooperative eco-system-based management of the region. Second is a regional self-financing mechanism, such as a multi-lateral trust fund or partnership council to ensure the implementation of the SAP.

The ATSEA Project started in early 2010 and runs until mid-2014.

For more information, go to http://www.atsea-program.org.

Project Title
Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Actions Program (ATSEA)

Status
Under implementation

Project Site
Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste

Proponent
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Duration
23 April 2008 – 30 December 2014

Total Cost of Project
$8.10-million

Contact Persons
Mr. Gabriel Antonius Wagey
Regional Project Coordinator

Mr. James Cannon
CEO

Mr. Lourenco Borges Fontes
Director

Mr. Adi Pramudya
ATSEA Program

Mr. Jose Erezo Padilla
Regional technical Adviser(RTA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Mr. Achmad Poernomo
Secretary

Mr. Nilanto Perbowo
Government Officer

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