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First ATSEA Cruise

The first ATSEA Cruise program is a manifestation of further effort at understanding and addressing existing problems at Arafura and Timor Seas by ATSEF, undertaking a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA), development of a Strategic Action Programme (SAP), and implementation of innovative demonstration project. A number of approaches could be undertaken in order to complete TDA and SAP process. As recommended in the framework report of ATSEA Cruise, one key activity in developing TDA of Arafura and Timor Seas is to conduct oceanographic survey in these regions using a Research Vessel (RV) Baruna Jaya VIII
First ATSEA Cruise

First ATSEA Cruise Launching

In the Southeast Asia-Australia region, the Arafura and Timor Seas are one of the last remaining centers of tropical marine biodiversity, including the fishery resources. Arafura and Timor Seas are known to have high abundance of fisheries resources as well as rich in marine biodiversity. However, this region relatively has less information and data available.

Thus, the gross annual production from fisheries in the Arafura and Timor Seas region is very difficult to estimate, given existing gaps in data collection and analysis, and the extremely high illegal, unregulated, and unreported (UII) fishing in this region. In addition, other threats persists, such as potential of increased incidence of natural threats associated with climate change as well as rapidly expanding coastal populations, increasing urbanizations, high level of poverty and limited economic opportunities which can increase exploitative pressures on natural resources, degradation of coastal habitats, marine pollutions form both land and sea based sources, and aquatic invasive species.

To manage its vast resources as well as overcome existing problems, Arafura and Timor Seas Expert Forum (ATSEF) was established with a clear objective to assist the stakeholders who depend upon the Arafura and Timor Seas in achieving the goals of sustainable development to support their livehood.

ATSEF was established with seed funding from Australia, but always intended to become financially self-sufficient. During 2006 – 2007 ATSEF developed a bid for funding under the United National Global Environment Facility (GEF) knows as the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action (ATSEA) Cruise.

ATSEA Cruise program is a manifestation of further effort at understanding and addressing existing problems at Arafura and Timor Seas by ATSEF, undertaking a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA), development of a Strategic Action Programme (SAP), and implementation of innovative demonstration project. A number of approaches could be undertaken in order to complete TDA and SAP process. As recommended in the framework report of ATSEA Cruise, one key activity in developing TDA of Arafura and Timor Seas is to conduct oceanographic survey in these regions using a Research Vessel.

The Project Preparation Grant (PPG) for ATSEA Cruise program was submitted to the GEF council in February 2008 and approved for funding in April 2008. On Friday October 16th 2009, Ms. Monique Barbut, Chief Executive Officer of the GEF provided final endorsement of the ATSEA program. The project forms part of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) – Asia and it is a vital forum for bringing the littoral nations of the Arafura and Timor Seas to work on the transboundary marine issues.

ATSEA Cruise is an ocean exploration using interdisciplinary approach for accessing and investigating the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the ocean floor, the ocean itself, and the diversity of life forms that inhabit the marine environment. Ocean exploration is intended to yield a  body of knowledge that may result in a immediate benefit or may inform research hypothesis that result in a new scientific understanding in the future.

Through this project it is anticipated that the ATSEA Cruise will provide scientific data and information to assist the development of TDA and SAP of Arafura and Timor Sea. These include, but not limited to:

  1. Revealing the new scientific information associated with ocean deeps and shallow water areas that are often centers for biologically diverse communities of fishes and invertebrates.
  2. Areas of high productivity where economically important species of fish and invertebrates are typically found.
  3. Insight into ocean dynamic of ATS that may have a role in climate and ecosystem variability.

 

The ATSEA Cruise will involve the Research Vessel Baruna Jaya VIII, to conduct bathymetric surveys and fisheries related collection and assessments as well as collect sea water conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) measurement as selected points. It may also serves as a base of operations for small boats involved in shallow water bathymetry and habitat assessment.

The ATSEA Cruise consists of two expedition legs for the Baruna Jaya VIII for totally 20 sailing days, from May 10th until May 27th 2010. The ship makes port calls in Kupang.

Senior researchers and experts from Indonesia, Australia, and Timor Leste participated in ATSEA Cruise, both from university and governmental institutions. Each participant is a well-known expert on their specialized fields.

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