Impact Report

November 2020: How The Tide is monitoring reef health in Timor-Leste

Cover: Cristina Mittermeier
The Tide

Welcome to your November Tide Impact Report. Every month we shine a light on one of the vital ocean projects that The Tide is supporting. It’s a chance for us to update you on the progress of that project as it continues to develop and deliver benefits for people and the planet.

This month we’re taking you to Atauro Island in Timor-Leste, where your Tide membership is supporting the establishment of the first program dedicated to training local community members in scuba diving and coral reef monitoring.

To carry out this project, our partner Blue Ventures, a nonprofit that supports locally led marine conservation efforts, is working closely with communities of Timor-Leste.

Community-based fisheries monitoring in Timor-Leste · Blue Ventures
Your Impact

The contributions of Tide members will provide funds to support a minimum of five members from the communities of Timor-Leste in attaining proficiency and certifications in scuba diving-based coral reef monitoring and data collection techniques and cover the costs of necessary equipment and transportation for the team.

The waters surrounding Atauro Island have been described by researchers as the most biodiverse in the world. In fact, a survey conducted by Conservation International in 2016 recorded an average of 253 reef fish species at each dive site in Atauro, a new world record for the number of fish species in a reef. However, several of Atauro’s reefs show serious damage from unsustainable fishing practices and lack of regulation and enforcement.

If a significant number of corals are to survive this century, we must act decisively to protect reefs and mitigate climate change.

Additionally, it is essential that we drive implementation of these measures, and this is where the Timorese communities, Blue Ventures, and Tide members come in.

Healthy coral reefs are vital to the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people and to the health of the ocean and the planet · Cristina Mittermeier
The Story Behind the Project

Blue Ventures has previously trained two local Atauro community members from zero to Divemaster (PADI), with a third member currently in training. Of these, Jemima “Mima” Gomes is Timor-Leste’s first female Divemaster. Now, the divers are monitoring the health of Atauro’s reefs as part of efforts to protect and manage the island’s natural marine resources.

Like many people from Atauro, I have been going to the sea since I began walking. Scuba diving and learning to identify fish, coral, and other species has been a wonderful new experience. It’s important that our communities know about the marine habitats around Atauro and understand the importance of conservation, so we can better protect our marine resources for the future.
Jemima “Mima” Gomes
Community Liaison Officer, Blue Ventures
Blue Ventures is adopting a community-driven approach to coral reef monitoring in Timor-Leste · Cristina Mittermeier

Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, Blue Ventures operated an expeditions program that brought international volunteers to Timor-Leste to take part in scuba diving-based data collection to support conservation programs. Naturally, this program was suspended due to the global pandemic. While this was unfortunate, it also created an opportunity to rethink this approach, which has led to the community-driven approach being adopted this time in Timor-Leste.

The shores of Atauro Island from above · Blue Ventures

Help share your impact on Facebook and Twitter. And if you or your family, friends, or colleagues are interested in supporting the Timorese communities and Blue Ventures further, you can donate directly to the project on Only One. You can also read about Mima’s journey to become the first female Divemaster from Timor-Leste by clicking through to the article below.

Jemima “Mima” Gomes

Scuba diving into community-led marine conservation
We’ll continue to update you on the progress being made by the five participants of the Blue Ventures scuba diving program. As always, we are so grateful for your support. Together, we can turn the tide, for people and the planet.
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