NUKU’ALOFA-September 1: 8.45am (R2R NEWS): Tonga’s ocean is worth millions of dollars every year and the launch of two recent reports on our fisheries resources should help us in our efforts to protect, sustain and replenish our oceans. Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni made the comments at the Davina’s in Ma’ufanga on Wednesday night, while launching the two reports.
He said Tonga’s ocean is worth almost half a billion Pa’anga every year, which is more than the value of Tonga’s exports.
“It’s a lot!!!! Some of these values we see in the marketplace, for example, tourism brings in about TOP$9 million per year and tuna taken from the Tonga’s waters is worth approximately TOP$6 million annually,” he said.
“More importantly, much of the value is “hidden”; it is NOT revealed in the market system. For example, many people in Tonga rely on marine resources that they harvest for food – this is valued at more than TOP$6million per year.
“Other hidden values, also not revealed in normal market transactions, include the value of marine ecosystems in coastal protection. For Tonga, our coastal ecosystem provide about TOP$20 million in value per year by protecting coastal communities and infrastructure from storms and cyclone damage; not that they prevent the damage – but they can reduce the damage that would otherwise occur.”
Tonga’s marine ecosystems also contribute to the world’s efforts to store carbon.
By storing carbon, marine ecosystems prevent increases in climate change impacts. In Tonga, this service is estimated at TOP$1.5 million annually.
“Imagine if those resources were lost and if we would need to replace those ecosystem goods and services somehow?DPM Sovaleni said.
A detailed report assessing these values has been provided to the Government of the Tonga today.
The research was undertaken in a collaboration between researchers and government partners.
Hon Sovaleni, who is also the Minister of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communications (MEIDECC), said government can use the results, to inform the development of the new policies, plans and strategies, especially at a national level, across Ministries, encourage more adequate resourcing to management efforts to protect these values, better design and implement development projects to ensure protection of all the important values, better integrate subsistence fishing values into planning by all government agencies , assess the relative pros and cons of alternative development and/or management actions , inform environmental impact assessments and licencing/permit decisions, review the adequacy of fines and penalties for marine environmental crime, and inform vulnerability assessments, spatial planning and other initiatives in disaster risk reduction.
The Minister thanked the MACBIO project for partnering with the Government to produce this report and noted how important it will be to protect the entire range of goods and services that the marine environment of Tonga provides to her people.
The report was produced with the support of the Government of Tonga and the MACBIO project (funded by the IKI program of BMUB, implemented by GIZ with technical support from IUCN and in close collaboration with SPREP).
Chief Executive Officers from the Ministry of Fisheries, the Ministry of Lands and Survey and PUMA were also at the launch.
MEIDECC CEO Paula Ma’u moved the vote of thanks at the end of the launch.