Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing is an issue that affects sustainable fisheries around the world, including in the Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS) region. In many cases the constraints on patrolling and reporting of illegal or unregulated fishing vessels has its limitations, due to the nature of the open sea and technological limitations. However, there are still ways to reduce the number of IUU fishing in regions like the ATS.

Such is the case in Timor-Leste, where ATSEA-2 has partnered with local governments in the municipalities of Viqueque, Manufahi and Covalima to create and promote training for a community-based surveillance method to local fishers. Through this training local fishers would be able to identify the characteristics of illegal fishing vessels, and how to monitor and control. This training, held in the last quarter of 2020, also aims to strengthen the knowledge on safety at sea and how to report illegal fishing and accidents.

180 people in total attended the trainings held in Viqueque (Watucarbau, Beaço, and Luca), Manufahi (Betano) and Covalima (Salele and Suai Loro), where most participants were local fishers, local authorities, and members of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF).

Through the trainings and meetings, fishers also now have more understanding on the procedure on the fishing licensing system, how preventing IUU fishing would result in a greater catch for Timor-Leste’s fishers, are more knowledgeable on the list of fisheries activities which are prohibited by law which include turtle catching, blast fishing, poison fishing, using beach seine net, fishing in marine protected areas, and using the dangers of using compressor.

Through this series of meetings, the ATSEA-2 team in Timor-Leste are ensuring that the Timor Seas are equipped to handle IUU fishing issues. These trainings will continue to be implemented in other fishing centers of the same municipalities, along with other efforts including conducting dissemination of fisheries legislation and supporting the General Directorate of Fisheries on boat marking and issuing fishing licenses.