The tropical region of the Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS) is crucial to connect Indian and Pacific Oceans as well as important role in the world’s ocean circulation. ATS has been facing big challenges from lack of awareness on ecosystem level, transboundary threats and less integrated management of the region. During the period of 2001 – 2005, it is estimated that the region had lost 1.25 million ton annually due to Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) activities. 

ATSEA Phase I Programme started in 2010 and was successfully completed on 2014 through the GEF/UNDP funding by involving three countries: Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Australia. The first phase was aimed to ensure an integrated, cooperative, sustainable and ecosystem-based management, and supported the coastal-marine resources especially fisheries and biodiversity. For four years, the significant contributions of this programs were:

  1. Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA),
  2. Initial implementation of Strategic Action Plan (SAP) components,
  3. Strengthened regional cooperation mechanism of the littoral countries, and
  4. Agreement of the Strategic Action Programme until 2025. 

After the completion of the first phase, GEF continues its support for the second phase of ATSEA (ATSEA-2). This time, the regional partnership involves four littoral countries: Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and supported by the Australian Government. In Indonesia, the program is implemented by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) Republic of Indonesia and UNDP. The official kick off meeting was held on October 3rd, 2019, in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

ATSEA-2 was developed as a response to the high fisheries potential on the region, while facing a declining marine ecosystem condition, both caused by anthropogenic pressure and climate change. The program promotes sustainable development over restoration, conservation, and sustainable management of coastal-marine ecosystem. In Indonesia, ATSEA-2 is focusing its work on three sites: Merauke District, Papua; Aru Island District, Maluku; and Rote Ndao District, East Nusa Tenggara.