The Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS) are part of the North Australian Shelf large marine ecosystem, a tropical marine area located between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The region extends from the Timor Sea to the Torres Strait and includes the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Bordering the Coral Triangle, epicenter of the world’s marine biodiversity, the region contains some of the most pristine and highly threatened coastal and marine ecosystems. At the regional scale, the ecosystems of the ATS play an important economic and ecological role in the littoral nations bordering the Arafura and Timor Sea: Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.
The ATS region is home to beautiful seascapes and numerous species, but it is also home to substantial development activities. These activities including deforestation, seismic oil and gas exploration, infrastructure construction, tourism and destructive fishing, and have led to clouding of coastal waters, underwater noise pollution, urban and industrial waste discharge and damage to fragile coastal habitats.
The Marine Research Foundation is involved in this project on behalf of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and under contract to the Coral Triangle Center (CTC), to provide data on marine turtles within the Arafura Timor Sea (ATS) including protection status, distribution, migratory route, reproduction, threats and nesting patterns, and to analyse data of marine turtle in ATS including protection status, distribution, migratory route, reproduction, threats and nesting patterns. MRF will also be developing a Regional Action Plan on marine turtles in the ATS including marine turtle status and protection plan in consultation with the governments of the ATS countries (Indonesia, Timor- Leste, PNG and Australia).