Transforming Tonga’s Ocean Management

Transforming Tonga’s Ocean Management

Tonga. Photo by Jessica Cramp

Oceans 5, in cooperation with the Waitt Foundation & Institute, is working with the Government of Tonga by supporting the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Oceania Regional Office (IUCN-ORO) and the Vava’u Environment Protection Association to transform the management of Tonga’s entire ocean.

The country of Tonga comprises 98 percent ocean and its seas cover an area the size of USA’s state of Texas (about 700,000 km2). Tonga’s marine resources are, therefore, very important in terms of food security, coastal protection, commercial fisheries, livelihoods, tourism and carbon sequestration. Just some of these values are estimated to sum to over US$20million annually—more than the annual value of Tonga’s exports (US$13 million).

But Tonga’s marine resources are under threat: from competing uses, overuse in some areas and conflicts between uses and the ecosystem.

Recognizing this, the Cabinet of Tonga, in response to the first-ever multi-Ministerial Cabinet Paper, decided in July of 2015 to implement the Pacific’s first marine spatial plan (MSP). The overall goal is to achieve ecologically sustainable social and economic development of Tonga’s ocean for the benefit of all Tongans. Also, the government has committed to 30 percent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within the MSP.

The Oceans 5 investment will allow for the:

  1. Conduct of a national ocean awareness program.
  2. Conduct of national consultations to gain input to, and build ownership of, the MSP.
  3. Preparation of a draft MSP, including a network of 10-30% MPAs.
  4. Conduct national consultations on the draft MSP.
  5. Revision and finalization of the MSP including drafting of regulations.
  6. Implement the MSP in law.
  7. Conduct consultation and awareness to inform people about the new MSP.

The MSP process is expected to result in adopted regulations by 2020.