Steaming right ahead, the Malaysian Department of Fisheries have already established a TED Programme Implementation Task Force to move forward with the implementation f a full TED programme in the country, following the success of our recent trip to the US with the Director General.
On July 4th I was honoured to be invited as a Technical Advisor to the first meeting of the Department of Fisheries Malaysia ‘TEDs Task Force’, held in Putrajaya, the seat of the Federal Government in Malaysia. The meeting was chaired by Dato’ Ahead Sabki, Director General, and was attended by over 30 key people from within the Department, ranging from logistics, finance, enforcement, gear unit and district officers. Dato’ recounted his meeting (along with Tuan Syed Abdullah) with the Minister following his return from the US trip, and how TEDs has now become a new Key Performance Index (KPI) for Fisheries – this is in line with the Prime Minister’s directive to be accountable within each government department.
The meeting heard a briefing from Syed Abdullah on TEDs in general and on the value of turtles to ecosystems, not to mention the added benefits of TEDs to fishers with reduced fuel consumption, improved catch quality, etc. I was then invited to provide some insights into how the TEDs programme could be developed in Malaysia, during which I highlighted the opportunities and also the potential trouble areas where we would all have to be careful – things like keeping the fishers actively engaged in all steps of the process, and substantial outreach and training needs.
Following this there was a general brainstorming session whereby all participants had the chance to offer ideas on expanding the programme, all of which are to be captured in a draft long-term implementation plan – which Syed has now developed into a draft document. The plan will be brought back to the Task Force for further comment/endorsement later this month or next. There were a variety of thoughts that were aired, from the conventional concerns over fisher buy-in to the extremely relevant funding issues. However, Dato’ managed to get several departments to commit to earmarking funds in their budgets for the TED programme, and the future of the programme looks good.
The Fisheries Department have one donor who has already provided funding from its CSR programme to help with the TEDs efforts, and a new one has just come online. I also have prepared a proposal for the GEF Small Grants funding under a new Strategic Initiative which we feel has a great chance of being funding. And finally there is the potential for other funds such as NOAA IA to expand the programme.
MRF has been invited to be the Technical Advisor to the Task Force, and we are already working on reviewing the draft implementation plan. So, a complete and resounding success out of this last US site visit – we seem to get better at this each year and again my gratitude to all of those who have helped us along the way to pull this off.