NEIAFU, Vava’u – October 18, 2018: 9.50am (Enviro News): The Minister for MEIDECC, Hon Poasi Tei, will join the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) consultation team here in Neiafu today.
Hon Tei will join the consultation team on their visit this evening.
He will be accompanied by the Chief Executive Officer Mr Paula Ma’u and Director of Communication Mr Feleti Tuihalamaka.
MSP Project Officer Ms Lilieta Takau said the team was grateful that the Minister was joining them.
“We are indeed grateful that the Minister, Hon Poasi Tei, has seen it fit to come in and join us on this consultation visit,” Ms Takau said.
“He wants to have a first hand look at what is being done and to have the chance to listen to the community members on their view in regards to the MSP and also on the use of the ocean and marine resources.”
Minister Tei will also inspect some of the projects implemented by MEIDECC here in Vava’u.
The MSP consultation team has spent the past week in Vava’u, continuing with consultations with communities around the island group.
The team visited the Govenor of Vava’u, Lord Fakatulolo to brief him of the consultation and government’s plan to put in place Tonga’s Ocean Plan.
In the past few days the team had visited the islands of Ofu and ‘Olo’ua before the current spate of rain and unpredictable weather affecting Vava’u forced changes to the team’s visitation schedule.
Consultations have since been held at Neiafu, Pangaimotu and Mataika, with more meetings scheduled for next week.
The MSP team excited with the general support and feedback from members of the different communities they have consulted with so far.
“It has been exciting so far and we received very good feedback from the different stakeholders,” Ms Takau said.
“All in all the support for the MSP and to have an Ocean Plan is there and we thank all those who have come forward to meet with us, listen to us and also give us their feedbacks.”
The Vava’u consultation will finish on October 30.
The consultation team includes consultant Dr Vailala Matoto; the Head of the Biodiversity Unit of the Department of Environment (MEIDECC) Ms Ta’hirih Hokafonu; Ms Halalilika Etika of the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Survey; Ms Lu’isa Fihaki of the Ministry of Tourism; Mr Iliesa Tora, the National Communication/Information Officer for the Department of Environment; Ms Silika Ngahe, Fisheries Officer in Charge in Vava’u and Ms Lisa Fanua of VEPA Vava’u.
Feedback from members of the community will be used by the team to help draft proposals to the Tonga Oceans 7 Technical Working Group that will work on writing up the Ocean Plan for Tonga.
Funds for the consultation are being made available by the MACBIO Project, VEPA, WAITT Institute, Oceans5 and the Marine Protected Area project, which is funded by the Italian Government.