Vava’u to host SMA workshop

Members of the Ovaka community in Vava’u have their own stories to tell about the success of the SMA in their region. They will also be attending the SMA workshop next week. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

Nuku’alofa – April 26, 2019: 4pm (Enviro News): Vava’u will host the Special Management Areas (SMAs) National Workshop next week.

The workshop is being organised by the Ministry of Fisheries.

Fisheries Minister Hon Semisi Fakahau is scheduled to open the workshop.

The workshop will take place in Neiafu, Vava’u, from April 30 to May 2 and will bring together government, Non – Government organizations, Donor partners, Special Management Area community representatives and other relevant stakeholders from Tonga and the Pacific region.

“This workshop brings together practitioners and supporters of the Special Management Area Program in Tonga at all levels – regional, national and communities,” the Fisheries Ministry said in a note on the workshop.

“The workshop intends to build on government, donor partners, NGOs and communities’ significant commitments to sustainable coastal fisheries management in Tonga. The workshop focuses on the role of government, communities, donors and NGOs, in relation to the success of the Special Management Areas (SMAs) program in Tonga in managing of its coastal fisheries.”

In 2002, Tonga adopted the Special Management Area (SMA) regime as a management tool for sustainable manage of the coastal fisheries in Tongan waters.

The first SMA community was established in 2006.

Today, there are 40 SMAs throughout Tonga with more communities expressing their interest to also have SMAs.

The Fisheries note said that the target is for all communities in Tonga become SMA with a vision that for the future, shifting the word onto a sustainable and resilient course in leading to a Tonga and the people to have a long-term prosperity.

The SMAs aims to tackle the complex challenges facing the coastal communities today – ending depletion of fisheries resources, degraded marine habitats, and responding to climate change while achieving inclusive growth and sustainably managing natural resources.

Participants will learn about and discuss topics to do with SMAs such as: their objectives, different SMA programs; lessons learned from their implementation in Tonga; and what is needed to deliver impacts at a scale sufficient to achieve nation-wide benefits. Participants will critically assess whether or not current support will lead to positive and sustainable development and conservation impacts at scale;

Participants will learn and discuss issues, practices and tools for SMAs that can contribute to effective national and sub-national coastal fisheries management and biodiversity protection; and

Participants will identify and support the development of pathways for positive change at scale. They will identify key roles for various groups of actors, and look at the linkages between them.  They will examine approaches to sustain the political will require for these activities and linkages.

The workshop aims to increase collective understanding and raising awareness of Special Management Areas (SMAs) and the linkage with the governance and other related government governance.

It will also aim to identify the benefits of SMAs and what works with regard to supporting SMAs.

It will also help to identify the challenges of SMAs and what doesn’t work with regard to supporting SMAs; Clarify how best to support communities with SMAs to improve management; Elaborate the next steps for government and potential donor partners, and NGOs in supporting communities regarding SMAs; Build network of support, within Tonga, of government and community-based practitioners in  managing their SMAs.

The workshop will be structured around plenary presentation and discussion as well as working groups.

The workshop will bring together about 150 participants from existing SMA communities, interested communities, relevant stakeholders from government, NGOs and funding partners.

The workshop will take place at the Maama Mo’onia Hall, Neiafu, Vava’u.

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