Community-based bathymetric survey to identify reefs and other fishing locations

*Community-based data gathering

- To help document traditional knowledge the Regional Livelihood Fisheries Programme (RFLP) are using the GPS sounders (fishfinders) configured to record where the fishermen are going, i.e. depth, sea surface temperature, range, fishing efficiency i.e., All of this is to help determine how much effort they are putting into getting the fish they catch. The strategy aims to build the capacity of the staff of the Timorese National Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NDFA) to collect and record the type of data Timor Leste will need to manage their fishery resources in the future. One of the first steps is to start collecting and managing the information. For example, data is being collected with respect to which species of fish the fishermen are catching, and the amounts they are catching of each species. In the frame of this strategy, the NDFA in partnership with the RFLP conducted the first National Census of Fishers and Boats of Timor Leste. As an example, findings point out to an over pressure of the fishing in the reef areas. This basic information, which was not available before, will lead to better policies and strategies for the sector. Primary Goals of the project • Documenting traditional knowledge with respect to fishing in the waters around Timor Leste; • Document fishing grounds, fishing patterns and record seasonal variations in fishing practices; • Charting obstructions and hazards to navigation; • Prevent loss of income to fishermen by reducing the incidence of boats being lost and nets being damaged due to underwater obstructions; • Building the capacity for the fishers to fish further offshore in order to avoid overexploitation of reef areas. Secondary Goals • Record of fishing locations linked to species information and catch size; • Document and record location of changes in sea temperature and ocean currents. Project Beneficiaries A number of clear project beneficiaries can be identified, these include: • Local fishing Communities: Vessel owner, captain and crew, fish traders and their respective families. • Government: Support for developing natural resource co-management strategies, coastal monitoring, productive partnerships with local stakeholders. • Scientific Community: Researchers on ocean current information, species information, catch data, fishing efficiency, Timorese common names and data on commercial species Navigation classes for the fishermen One of the strategies we are pursuing to build their capacity is to train the fishermen in how to use GPS as a navigation tool and giving them access to existing navigational charts. The thought is that if the fishermen know where they are and where they need to go, they can cruise more efficiently, saving money. In teaching navigation, we are building their capacity to expand their fishing range. The strategy is that if the fishers feel safer and know exactly where they are, they will fish further offshore. From a production perspective this would relieve the pressure on the near-shore young fish stocks and perhaps give them the opportunity to reach a more sustainable population size. Technology transfer The technical approach is to mount depth sounders with data-loggers on a number of the fishing boats. These units record a location, depth and sea-surface temperature every time the boat moves three meters. The data is collected several times per week and compiled into a centralized spatial system at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Comoro office. RFLP are currently in the process of collecting data from boats in three different locations; Pante Makassar, Bobonaro, and Atauro. The units are installed on fishing boats of different types engaged in the various types of fishing that occur though out Timor Leste.