Dandong, PR China — An announcement from the Government of Timor-Leste of financial support to PEMSEA was welcomed with applause and appreciation by the PEMSEA Partners and other participants at the 3rd East Asian Seas Partnership Council Meeting held in Dandong, PR China last 26-29 July 2010.
Mr. Augusto Fernandes, National Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries, Timor-Leste, delivered the good news during the discussions on the development of PEMSEA's Financial Sustainability and Advocacy Plan. Mr. Fernandes emphasized that in line with their commitment to the Haikou Partnership Agreement, which they signed in 2006, Timor-Leste will support the continuous implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA), and pledged to provide financial support to PEMSEA activities amounting to US$100,000 on an annual basis.As a newly formed independent state that is faced with a number of challenges relating sustainable development, Timor-Leste's announcement was most significant. According to Prof. Raphael P.M. Lotilla, Executive Director of the PEMSEA Resource Facility, this signifies that countries are making serious commitments and investments especially for human capacity development, not just for a specific country, but to the region in general.Timor-Leste lies within the Coral Triangle and is endowed with rich natural resources. The majority of its population, particularly in rural areas, relies heavily on coastal and marine resources for livelihood. It is therefore critical for the country to improve its management of coastal and marine resources in order to ensure food security and livelihood management. In recent years, Timor-Leste has made some progress related to the marine and coastal resource management, including: completion of a coastal and marine habitat survey, mapping and species identification, river catchment and marine productivity assessment, establishment of Marine Protected Areas, and development of ecotourism.Timor-Leste recognized the need to further strengthen marine and coastal management/governance in the country and expressed their full cooperation with their neighboring countries and other Partners in the East Asian Seas region to implement the SDS-SEA.Timor-Leste is one of the 11 Partner Countries of PEMSEA and is a member of the EAS Partnership Council.