NUKU’ALOFA-April 26, 2018: 12.10pm (Enviro News): Local marine stakeholders have been invited to celebrate the launch of new, world-class information which will help Tonga’s ocean planning, at an event here in Nuku’alofa this afternoon.
The event is jointly organized by the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) and the Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Management in Pacific Island Countries (MACBIO) Project.
The work was also supported by the Government of Tonga, especially the Ministries of Fisheries and Lands and Natural Resources and international partner, Oceans 5.
The ‘Marine Bioregions of Tonga’ Report will be launched by the Honorable Minister of MEIDECC, Mr Poasi Mataele Tei.
The Minister said “this work will help us achieve one of Tonga’s key international commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Specifically, we can now identify and implement an ecologically representative network of marine protected areas in Tonga using the results of this research”.
Dr Leanne Fernandes from the MACBIO project at IUCN said “the scientific analysis and expert input that led to the development of these marine bioregions for Tonga is absolutely world-class and, for the Pacific, the first report of its kind ever launched”.
MEIDECC Chief Executive Officer, Mr Paula Ma’u said “Tonga’s coastal and open ocean environment is important to our people – in terms of food, jobs and also culturally and biologically”.
“It’s worth more than T$47 million per year – which is more than the value of Tonga’s exports…The better we can manage our ocean, the more likely it can withstand the pressures upon it, and more likely that the values that we, as a people, gain from our seas, will be sustained,” Mr Ma’u added.
In 2015, for the first time in Tongan history, three Ministries submitted a joint paper to Cabinet to initiate marine spatial planning for the nation. These were the Ministry of MEIDECC, of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) and the, then, Ministry for Agriculture, Food, Forests and Fisheries (MAFFF). To ensure this, the Government of Tonga has established a cross-Ministerial technical working group (the Oceans 7) with the Department of Environment as the focal point.
The Oceans 7 includes the three pioneering ministries plus the Ministry for Finance and National Planning, Ministry for Internal Affairs, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Infrastructure (Marine Division) and also the Tonga Ports Authority.
Dr Tu’ikolongahua Halafihi, CEO of Fisheries, thanked the Oceans 7 and Tonga’s marine experts who reviewed draft marine bioregions and finalized them. He thanked BMUB’s (now BMU’s) International Climate Fund and Oceans 5 funding support and the MACBIO team (including IUCN, GIZ and SPREP) for their technical support.
The Oceans 7 team is currently meeting at the Waterfront Lodge on mapping out the Tonga Ocean Management Plan.