Sovaleni encourage team on Ocean Plan consultations

Nuku’alofa – September 6, 2018: 4.20pm (Enviro News): Members of the Marine Spatial Plan Consultation Team were boosted by a timely visit by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and Sustainable Development, Hon Siaosi Sovaleni in Nuku’alofa on Wednesday.

Hon Sovaleni, who was the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Climate Change and Environment (MEIDECC), was instrumental in the initial discussions on the implementation of the MSP here in Tonga.

The Marine Spatial Plan is also known as the Ocean Plan.

Hon Sovaleni sharing a point at the meeting on Wednesday. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

It is an initiate of the Government of Tonga in partnership with international funders and partners like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), WAITT and the MACBIO Project.

The Ocean Plan, once final, will map what kinds of activities can occur where, to ensure protection of the many values that our ocean brings to us Tongans.

Hon Sovaleni visited the Consultations Training on Wednesday, during the second day of training held at the Energy Department’s Conference room at the Ministry of MEIDECC (Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications).

While addressing the team members and participants Hon Sovaleni said they were doing an important job in working towards the finalisation of the Ocean Plan.

“I am thankful to you all for dedicating your time to work on this very important process, which will ensure we have legislations in place that will help us manage our ocean, its resources and activities,” he said.

“It is very important that we are able to consult with members of the communities and get their views, their response on what we are planning.

“Information we get from those consultation can then help us as we decide on what we need to do.”

Hon Sovaleni advised the members that they would need to go and interact with community members as “one of them”.

“These committee have very experienced and knowledgable members, and that is very good,” he said.

MSP Consultants at the training on Wednesday. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

“But I would advise that when you go to the communities you go in as one of them, listen to them, interact with them and learn from them.

“That is very important for you to do that.”

Hon Sovaleni also advised the team to widen their consultation to include the businesses, civil society and the wider public.

He said there are businesses already operating and using the ocean and they also need to be consulted.

He also invited the team to also present their work to Parliament so that Members of Parliament also understand the work that is being done in regards to the Ocean Plan.

Director of Environment Ms Atelaite Lupe Matoto thanked Hon Sovaleni for his encouragement and said his words of encouragement would help the consultation team prepare for the task ahead.

The MSP Consultation Team will visit Ha’atafu Village this evening for a pilot consultation meet before they embark on a three-months long awareness and consultation visit to Ha’apai, Vava’u, Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou.

Team members include staff of the Department of Environment, Fisheries, Tourism and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Statistics show that Tonga’s Marine Ecosystem Services in 2013 were worth TOP$47.4 million.

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