The Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries is the primary government agency supporting the development of Agriculture and Aquaculture in Timor-Leste. Within the Ministry the National Directorate of Aquaculture leads the country’s development strategy for Aquaculture (Fish Farming). The Government’s goal is to support the development of a sustainable aquaculture industry that supports rural livelihoods and increases access to high quality food in rural communities. As a government body the Ministry is tasked to manage policy development, administer research and development, and industry training. In terms of aquaculture development the ministry has produced an Aquaculture Development Strategy (ADS) and an Implementation Plan (ADSIP) for this strategy. The Ministry collaborates with local and international NGO’s to establish new technologies, to upskill MAF staff and to train local fish farmers. It also operates a number of small hatcheries to support the supply of fingerlings to small scale farmers to encourage industry development. The Government provides direct support for development of new ponds for farm groups wishing to establish fish farms.
In partnership with the New Zealand Aid programme the National Directorate of Aquaculture (NDA) is working to support the development of marine aquaculture in the form of freshwater Tilapia production and marine Milkfish production. A number of milkfish farms already exist in Timor-Leste but expansion of the industry and increased production from these farms is limited by access to milkfish fingerlings. These fingerlings are currently either captured from the wild or imported from Indonesia both of which have proven to be costly and unreliable supply options. The NDA have a marine hatchery at Vemasse that was developed for mud crab larval rearing. As part of the aquaculture implementation plan the hatchery is to be re-purposed to produce milkfish fingerlings.