23 OCTOBER 2009 | Washington DC - An Action Plan to address trans-boundary threats to fisheries and living marine resources in the Arafura and Timor Seas, has attracted US$2.65 Million in support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and US$5.45 Million in co-financing from other partners, including the Australian Government, as part of the broader multi-party Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI).
The Coral Triangle bound by Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor Leste, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands – is a ‘marine Garden of Eden’ - the world’s treasure-trove of marine biodiversity. It also provides food security through fish protein for more than 2 billion coastal peoples.
The Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action program (ATSEA) will develop a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA). The TDA will assess the current state of the environment and resources in the Arafura and Timor Seas, including pressures, threats and impacts from over-exploitation and global climate change. The region is also seriously threatened by pollution, such as the current West Atlas gas-rig blow-out, which has been discharging oil into the Timor Sea for nearly two months.
The TDA will lay the basis for the development and agreement on a multi-lateral Strategic Action Program (SAP) that will lead to enhanced regional cooperation between Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste, for the sustainable management of their shared seas. The SAP agreement on collective action is expected to unlock future GEF funding to address environmental concerns and opportunities in the region.
High priority issues in the Arafura and Timor Seas include illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, and the development of alternative sustainable livelihoods for coastal peoples to discourage this. This GEF project is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and coordinated by the Arafura and Timor Seas Experts Forum (ATSEF). GEF support for the ATSEA program is from the GEF International Waters portfolio, to promote cooperative regional arrangements, based on Large Marine Ecosystems (LME).
The ATSEA program will be launched at the Cairns Hilton Executive Boardroom at 5pm on Sunday 25 October, as part of the 5th GEF International Waters Conference.
Gaye Scott, 20/20 Media. Mobile: 0418 793 009
Steve Raaymakers, IWC-5 Technical Coordinator. Mobile: 040 9909 422