In 2002 The Arafura and Timor Seas Expert Forum (ATSEF) was formed as a space for experts concerned about the sustainable management of ATS region. It was the driving force behind the development and implementation of the first phase of ATSEA in 2010 to 2014.

After a five-year break, the second phase of ATSEA has finally begun. Hence, the Regional Project Management Unit (RPMU) of ATSEA-2 held a focus group discussion (FGD) on ATSEF in Jakarta on 3 March 2020 with the objectives to share lesson learned on ATSEF activities and products, to share information on the ATSEA-2 programme, and to seek inputs for the establishment of Stakeholder Partnership Forum (SPF), as well as its mandate and role.

The FGD was facilitated by Dr. Handoko Adi Susanto (RPMU of ATSEA-2), and attended by Dr Bambang Suprakto, A.Pi, S.Pi, MT (the Head of Indonesian Fisheries Research Center/National Project Director of ATSEA-2), Prof. Dr. Zainal Arifin (Indonesian National Institute of Sciences), Prof. Dr Etty Agoes (Padjajaran University), Ir. Elvi Wijayanti, M.Sc (Deputy Secretary for Human Resource, Science, Technology, and Marine Culture from Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment), Dr. Tonny Wagey (ICCTF), Niken Winarsih (Head of Subdirectorate of Marine Resource Research from Indonesian Fisheries Research Center), Iwan Kurniawan (UNDP Indonesia), Dwi Ariyoga Gautama (Indonesian National Coordination Unit of ATSEA-2), and Austin Faradian (UNDP Indonesia). 

SPF serves as the next step for ATSEF. Previously, ATSEF focused primarily on research with members from research institutions and governments. While making the shift towards SPF, the forum is expected to engage broader members, including the private sector, local communities, and civil society organizations. One of ATSEA-2’s goals is to develop a clear membership, structure, and mechanism for SPF through the assessment of the Regional Steering Committee.

The FGD was an important initial action to revive ATSEF and form SPF. Following this meeting, current members will reach out to previous ATSEF members and approach potential new members.

There are still many steps to transform ATSEF to SPF. Nevertheless, ATSEA-2 will continue to provide support to enable a functional and long-lasting SPF.