The Timorese government is creating protected areas in the waters of the Coral Triangle, called "no-take zones," where fishing is prohibited.
The goal is for fish to grow to healthy sizes, improving the chances that species will survive. This is important not only for Timor-Leste's fisheries, but also for global fisheries.
The United States is supporting Timor-Leste's efforts to anticipate and adapt to climate change and natural disasters through the Coral Triangle Support Partnership program implemented by the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID.
On a bright morning, nearly 200 people gathered in Manatuto, Timor-Leste, to share ideas about how to conserve the region's marine resources. Local fishermen, community leaders, representatives from local government, and a team from USAID discussed the conservation program.
By the end of the meeting, there was a mutual understanding that fishing could not happen in protected areas for three years in order to allow the fish to regain their numbers and remain plentiful for future generations, but that in the meantime, people could still catch fish in other areas to support their families.
By acknowledging community concerns and seeking input, the United States Agency for International Development and Timorese government were able to integrate local knowledge and customs more effectively into their work to protect the environment.
As Mr. Cristovao Guterres, who serves as the Development Outreach and Communications Specialist at the USAID Timor-Leste Mission, observed "Community participation in and support for this process is crucial, because so many people depend on the marine environment for income."