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Coordinates: 9°30′S 135°0′E / 9.5°S 135°E / -9.5; 135

Map of the Arafura Sea

The Arafura Sea lies west of the Pacific Ocean overlying the continental shelf between Australia and New Guinea.

Contents

Geography

The Arafura Sea is bordered by Torres Strait and through that the Coral Sea to the east, the Gulf of Carpentaria to the south, the Timor Sea to the west and the Banda and Ceram seas to the northwest. It is 1290 kilometres (800 miles) long and 560 kilometres (350 miles) wide. The depth of the sea is primarily 50-80 metres (165-265 feet) with the depth increasing to the west. As a shallow tropical sea, its waters are a breeding ground for tropical cyclones.

The sea lies over the Arafura Shelf, part of the Sahul Shelf. When sea levels were low during the last glacial maximum, the Arafura Shelf, the Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait formed a large flat land bridge connecting Australia and New Guinea and easing migration of humans from Asia into Australia. The combined landmass formed the continent of Sahul.

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Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) defines the Arafura Sea as being one of the waters of the East Indian Archipelago. The IHO defines its limits as follows:[1]

On the North. The Southeastern limit of the Ceram Sea [A line from Karoefa, New Guinea, to the Southeastern extreme of Adi Island, thence to Tg. Borang, the Northern point of Noehoe Tjoet [Kai Besar] (5°17′S 133°09′E / 5.283°S 133.15°E / -5.283; 133.15)] and the Eastern limit of the Banda Sea [From Tg Borang, the Northern point of Noehoe Tjoet, through this island to its Southern point, thence a line to the Northeast point of Fordata, through this island and across to the Northeast point of Larat, Tanimbar Islands (7°06′S 131°55′E / 7.1°S 131.917°E / -7.1; 131.917), down the East coast of Jamdena [Yamdena] Island to its Southern point, thence through Anggarmasa to the North point of Selaroe and through this island to Tg Aro Oesoe its Southern point (8°21′S 130°45′E / 8.35°S 130.75°E / -8.35; 130.75)].

On the East. The Southwest coast of New Guinea from Karoefa (133°27'E) to the entrance to the Bensbak River (141°01'E), and thence a line to the Northwest extreme of York Peninsula, Australia (11°05′S 142°03′E / 11.083°S 142.05°E / -11.083; 142.05).

On the South. By the North coast of Australia from the Northwest extreme of York Peninsula to Cape Don (11°19′S 131°46′E / 11.317°S 131.767°E / -11.317; 131.767).

On the West. A line from Cape Don to Tanjong Aro Oesoe, the Southern point of Selaroe (Tanimbar Islands).

Name

The sea's name first appeared in use in GW Earl's 1837 "Sailing Directions for the Arafura" in which he compiled translations from earlier Dutch mariner explorations.

It has been suggested that the name Arafura is of Portuguese origin, being the corruption of the word "Alfours"meaning "free men", but recent research at the Dutch National Archives has revealed AJ van der Aa's 1939 Toponymic Dictionary records "the inhabitants of the Moluccas called themselves "haraforas", translating "Anak anak gunung" as "children of the mountains". [2]

Fisheries

The Arafura Sea is potentially a place for shrimp and demersal fishing. Shrimp available in this sea are penaeid sp in addition to basic fishes, nemipteridae sp and other kind of fish.

In a world where marine ecosystems and fish stocks are generally collapsing, the Arafura Sea stands out as among the richest marine fisheries in the world. However, the Arafura is coming under ever more intense pressure from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. If this trend persists, the many local communities who surround the sea and who depend on fish protein will face a considerable challenge in sustaining their livelihoods.

Increasing economic growth and maintaining environment quality are two main challenges to achieve sustainable development in coastal areas of the sea. Utilization of marine and fisheries resources for economic development of particular area must be conducted in coordinative manner and through appropriate approaches which take into consideration the sustainable aspects of the environment.

Established in 2002, the Arafura and Timor Seas Expert Forum (ATSEF) seeks to promote economically and environmentally sustainable management of the seas.

References

  1. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. http://www.iho.shom.fr/publicat/free/files/S23_1953.pdf. Retrieved 22 December 2009.  
  2. ^ Place Names Committee for the Northern Territory web site http://www.ntlis.nt.gov.au/placenames/view.jsp?id=10395

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