Header Ads

Renewed focus on Tonga’s fisheries

Tonga fisheries has been undergoing major changes since its 2015 transition from being tagged with the Agriculture and Environment portfolios, to a stand-alone Ministry under Minister Semisi Fakahau.

The aim of the changes was to create a renewed focus on fisheries, to increase exports, to help combat the problems in Tonga of non-communicable diseases like diabetes.

The focus was also to promote more fish in diets, and to increase the benefits from fisheries management to all Tongans.

Ministry's new CEO Dr Tuikolongahau Halafihi says the renewed focus on fisheries resources as a national priority has already started to see rewards from this new focus.

“The exports are up by 73% to 1,743 tonnes; with a 54% increase in the value of fish exported, to over $10 million,” Halafihi told the 102nd Forum Fisheries Committee meeting in Canberra, Australia.

“We are increasing the availability of fish on our local markets by requiring all by-catch from our foreign licensed vessels to be landed for sale in Tonga,” he added.

Halafihi said the Ministry's new structure covering Fisheries Management and Development, Fisheries Science, Fisheries Compliance, and Corporate Services will also be energised by a new corporate plan.

Focusing on community fisheries, he said the community fisheries are managed through the implementation of Special Management Areas (SMAs).

“SMAs are a form of area based management where the community helps to determine the rules, and only people from within the community are allowed to harvest fish”.

“By the end of this financial year we are aiming to have over 30 SMA’s implemented, and there is the potential for around 100 to be established over the long term,” he explained.

He also talked about commercial fisheries and aquacultures which are emerging sectors facing challenges, but a way forward is aimed at ensuring Tonga has fish for its future needs”.

Halafihi says a major emerging challenge for the Ministry of Fisheries has been the Government’s approval of the Tonga Fisheries Sector Plan, developed with the assistance of the World Bank.

The plan includes a list of 100 action items, representing the biggest range of fisheries reforms in Tonga for over 20 years.

The Ministry of fisheries is currently implementing the plan and is seeking funding and technical assistance from the development partners.

Halafihi thanked the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General, James Morvick for his prompt attention to request for support during the implementation planning phase and in particular Mike Batty for his in-country support and the review of stakeholder engagement.

The Ministry is now in the early stages of discussion for significant funding under the World Bank Pacific Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP).
Tonga Fisheries, Tonga Ministry of Fisheries
Powered by Blogger.