This report showcases examples of actions taken by small-scale fishers and aquaculture farmers in Asia to restore the productivity of aquatic ecosystems. It contains a case study on Blue Ventures’ work in Timor Leste:
Timor-Leste: Customary management and female leadership
In 2018, the Behau community of Timor-Leste established a marine protected area under their customary law practice called ‘Tara Bandu’, with the goal of sustaining their livelihoods. NGO partner Blue Ventures helped the community develop their own marine management program. Importantly, the community have been the initiators of the management design. In Behau, customary marine tenure laws have been investigated, discussed, and synthesized with more recent scientific understandings of coral reef fisheries and successful nearshore resource management actions. The communities have participated in learning exchange visits to other established locally managed marine area (LMMA) sites in Indonesia and actively participated in local dialogues. The Behau community cooperative has now implemented their own LMMA design, that includes fishing gear regulations, notake protected areas, access and anchorage restrictions, and multipurpose zones (Blue Ventures 2019). There is a locally-led fisheries monitoring group, and the community has installed buoys to demarcate protected zones. The monitoring group, with support from Blue Ventures, is developing a female-led monitoring program. This program trains and facilitates women’s empowerment and engagement in the community’s resource management process. Using the same program, women in Atauro Island, Timor-Leste, have been collecting socioeconomic data on local fisheries catches, which informs their community LMMA development and will enable the community to self-monitor and report future outcomes (Blue Ventures, 2018). Behau and Atauro are popular marine tourism destinations in Timor-Leste, and development of local tourism businesses has the potential to support women’s livelihoods and a sustainable local economy.