Optimising the Timor-Leste sardine fishery for enhanced food security

  • Hunnam, Kimberley Jean (Principal Investigator/Chief Investigator A)

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details


Small-scale fisheries make essential contributions to food security and coastal livelihoods. While there has been much previous research on the importance of tropical coral reef fisheries in the Asia-Pacific region, less attention has been paid to small pelagic fisheries. Yet these fisheries are by their nature, more productive and more resilient to fishing than reef fisheries, and can be as, or more important for income and the supply of nutritious food. This study is investigating small-scale sardine fisheries in Timor-Leste with the overall aim to identify potential opportunities for delivering and sustaining greater benefits from this social-ecological food system. Fish landing surveys, semi-structured discussions with fishers and fish traders, and observations, have been undertaken in communities using two river-associated fishing locations along Timor-Leste’s north coast. Preliminary findings show that sardines are seasonally important as income and food. Fishers use small-mesh gillnets nearshore from both motorised and non-motorised canoes. Fish are transported to inland communities and district centres by fish traders, or sold directly to consumers on the roadside. Most sardines are sold fresh; only surplus (unsold) fish are dried, which was uncommon during the reportedly poor seasons in 2016-2018. Sardines are commonly eaten by fishers, fish traders and their families, and are a popular food among Timorese as they are more affordable than large fish. Fishers in some locations report that fisher numbers are increasing and sardines are becoming more difficult to catch, suggesting such fisheries would benefit from management, ideally designed and implemented by the local communities
Effective start/end date11/01/16 → …


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