State of the Coral Triangle: Timor-Leste

Publication | May 2014

Describes Timor-Leste's marine and coastal ecosystems, their governance under the prevailing legal and policy framework, and the institutional arrangements for ensuring compliance with the provisions of that framework.

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One of a series of six reports on the status of marine resources in the western Pacific Ocean, the State of the Coral Triangle: Timor-Leste describes the biophysical characteristics of Timor-Leste’s coastal and marine ecosystems, the manner in which they are being exploited, the framework in place that governs their use, the socioeconomic characteristics of the communities that use them, and the environmental threats posed by the manner in which they are being used. It explains the country’s national plan of action to address these threats and improve marine resource management.


Effective management is the key to protecting Timor-Leste’s reef systems. This is apparent from several quantitative indicators that confirm that these systems are under environmental threat. The degree of abundance of valuable commercial and upper trophic-level species, such as the snapper and grouper, is notable low in these reef systems, confirming that these fish populations have been exposed to extraction rates that far exceed sustainable levels. Similarly, destructive fishing practices, such as dynamite fishing, which physically destroy the marine habitat itself, likewise confirm lack of sustainability of current extraction rates. As a result, formulating and enforcing appropriate fishing regulations, and establishing the proposed marine protected area network are imperative if future extraction rates are to be kept within sustainable limits.

Managing upland threats through integrated catchment management and rehabilitation of mangrove forests are likewise priorities, since such initiatives will enable stabilization and even growth in the abundance of species that can support the country’s coastal populations, as well as the country at large.

Food security is a particularly pressing concern for Timor-Leste, as an estimated 30% of the country’s population experiences hunger daily, and many live in poverty. In this regard, sitespecific integrated coastal management demonstration projects and other livelihood adaptation initiatives supported under the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia and Coral Triangle initiatives are currently helping Timor-Leste build a foundation for sustainably managing the country’s marine resources.

Expansion of fee-for-access arrangements that permit environmentally responsible extraction of Timor-Leste’s offshore oil and gas resources could likewise help fund management of the country’s marine resources. Revenues from this funding source could as well be used to increase availability of food to the general population as part of a broad-based national development strategy.


  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Biophysical Characteristics
  • Governance
  • Socioeconomic Characteristics
  • Threats and Vulnerabilities
  • National Plan of Action Initiatives and Future Plans
  • References

Additional Details

  • Environment
  • Natural resources conservation
  • Environmental policy and legislation
  • Timor-Leste
  • 56
  • 8.5 x 11
  • RPT146481-3
  • 978-92-9254-526-0 (print)
  • 978-92-9254-527-7 (electronic)

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