Located in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and Papua, the Arafura Sea is a valuable source of fisheries resources for Indonesia, due to the high volume of shrimp and demersal fish species in the area. However, illegal fishing activities in the region are depleting fish stocks and resulting in significant losses for the Indonesian government.

To tackle these issues, the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action Phase 2 (ATSEA-2) Project has been working with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) since 2019. The project conducts various activities to support conservation area designation and has been helping the Papua Province Fisheries Crime Forum to draft a District Action Plan (Rencana Aksi Daerah-RAD) related to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

From 15-16 February 2023, a technical discussion was held with the South Papua Provincial Government to provide updates on the progress of the ATSEA-2 Project and its 2023 action plan. The meeting covered the conservation area designation on Kolepom Island, along with the preparation of a conservation management plan and recent developments in relation to the IUU Fishing RAD. The meeting was attended by approximately 45 participants from various governmental agencies and was conducted in a hybrid manner, both in Merauke and online.

All participants sign the Activity Report, marking the successful activity.

The outcome of the meeting was an improved draft of the IUU Fishing RAD, comprising six strategies with sub-activity components. The priorities of RAD activities are as follows: (1) regular meetings of the Fisheries Crime Forum in Papua, (2) drafting academic papers to support the provincial action plan for fisheries enforcement (3) and developing an integrated fisheries database at the provincial and district level. Following the creation of the new South Papua Province in November 2022, the RAD will adjust its focus to cover WPP 718, along with plans for the management of the Kolepom MPA. The activity wrapped up with the signing of the Activity Report by all participants present.

The successful implementation of this activity represents a major step forward in tackling overfishing and IUU fishing, with additional focus on environmentally friendly fishing gear and pollution from land and sea. These initiatives will support a recovery in production capacity and ultimately help restore the Arafura Sea area to its former state.

By Johanis Valentino Fofied