DILI, 03 october 2023 (TATOLI) – The Government of Timor-Leste, through the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Forestry, will closely collaborate with Global Fishing Watch (GFW) to combat illegal fishing in Timor-Leste’s water.
The Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Celestino da Cunha, emphasised the importance of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) to combat illegal fishing in Timor-Leste’s water.
The two sides have been working together since 2020, making efforts to control and combat illegal fishing vessels in the Timor Sea.
“We have been working closely with Global Fishing Watch in monitoring the South Timor Sea to keep a close eye on illegal fishing. That’s why illegal fishing activities have been reduced recently,” Cunha told TATOLI at his office, in Dili, today.
To combat illegal fishing, Timor-Leste has been working with Indonesia on a project called the Indonesian Sea Large Marine Ecosystem, which brings together efforts centered on illegal fishing and transboundary conservation.
Timor-Leste has also collaborated with Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea in the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action (ATSEA). Working with these countries is important to strengthen Timor-Leste’s efforts to reduce illegal fishing in the Timor Sea and the Arafura Sea. These Pacific nations share their vessel monitoring system data with Global Fishing Watch, which would facilitate Timor-Leste to control its waters.
“According to GFW data, illegal fishing activities in Timor-Leste’s waters declined in 2023. We detect 10 illegal fishing vessels operating in our waters every day,” he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture has also worked closely with the National Maritime Authority (ANM) to monitor Timor-Leste’s underwater natural resources.
The two Maritime Patrol Vessels to be provided by the Australian government will certainly help the country to effectively control the Timor Sea.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF), in 2018, approximately 107 illegal fishing vessels were detected in the Timor Sea. During that period, an estimated 239,460 tons of fish were taken from the sea, which is estimated to have an economic value of more than US$1 billion.
Meanwhile, in 2019, MoAF reported a total of 69 illegal fishing vessels operating in Timor-Leste waters. Over 147,975 tons of fish were lost, which is equivalent to US$838,350,000. In addition, in 2020, MoAF registered 48 illegal fishing vessels. These vessels stole about 1,563 tons of fish, which is equivalent to US$9,694,000.
Aaccording to Global Fishing Watch, the non-profit that tracks vessel activity at sea, the majority of illegal fishing vessels in Timor-Leste waters come from Indonesia.
Journalist: Camilio de Sousa
Editor: Filomeno Martins