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Study tour links Arafura and Timor seas

By Leanne Coleman

ATSEA participants are welcomed to country by Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation staff ATSEA participants are welcomed to country by Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation staff

Representatives from across the Arafura and Timor seas have come together to share ideas about sustainable activities for the conservation and management of marine and coastal resources.

Hosted by the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University and the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) the study tour focused on sharing knowledge, skills and experiences.

Participants from Rote Island (Indonesia) and Timor-Leste visited Darwin and eastern Arnhem Land to meet with Indigenous groups, environmental managers and conservation professionals.

CDU Senior Research Fellow Dr Natasha Stacey said that over the four days of workshops participants shared their experiences in trying to deal with similar issues within their communities and shared ideas for how to implement best practice resource management.

“The Arafura and Timor seas region is extremely rich in marine resources,” Dr Stacey said. “Valuable fisheries resources are vital to many communities in the region and support economic and livelihood activities that stretch across the region’s international borders.

“Even though there are many differences in the socio-economic characteristics and conditions within and between the countries there are many similarities in shared common issues, challenges and concerns.

“One of the major common issues was capacity building and how to effectively implement best practice management while enabling the communities to preserve their livelihoods.”

Dr Stacey said the study tour had helped forge partnerships that in the future would strengthen community capacity for sustainable livelihoods through improved coastal management and aquaculture.

“While visiting Darwin, Yirralka and Dhimurru Rangers in Nhulunbuy, participants were introduced to the I-tracker technology that is assisting remote Indigenous communities to monitor biodiversity and track ghost nets around their coastal areas,” she said. “There was also much discussion about common interests in trepang aquaculture enterprises being trialled in Indigenous communities.

“Participants were also very interested in recognition of land rights to manage their own resources and sharing ideas about customary community based management.”

The visit was conducted as part of the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action regional exchange program with funding support from the Global Environment Facility International Waters Program and the Australian Commonwealth Department of the Environment.