Islands and Ocean Division discuss work plan

Islands and Ocean Division’s head Ms Ta’hirih Hokafonu (right) explaining a point to her divisional staff at their meeting on Wednesday. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

Nuku’alofa – January 10, 2020: 12.15pm (Enviro News): The addition of a new project and the focus on Healthy Oceans for 2020 makes the work of the Islands and Ocean Division here at the Environment Department a critical one.

Invasive Species, with its Phase 2 for Tonga, is an addition to the Division’s program this year and for the next four years.

Healthy Oceans is going to be Government’s focus for the year, in line with United Nations aspirations in the face of the climate change challenge and the push for better ocean management.

Division’s head Ms Ta’hirih Hokafonu told their first meeting at the Environment Department’s conference room here in Nuku’alofa on Wednesday, January 8 that the work for 2020 is going to be critical in a number of ways.

The Invasive Species project will focus on areas that will help prevent ‘invasive species’ coming into Tonga.

Fanga’uta Lagoon officer Petelo Otoota Tooa (left) and National Communication Officer Iliesa Tora at the division’s meeting on Wednesday. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

The first campaign will be on identifying weeds or plants that are new and could be classified as invasive species to the country.

That will be held in February in Vava’u and Tongatapu.

Project Coordinator Viliami Hakaumotu told the meeting in his briefing that this is a new category.

“The campaign will start in Vava’u and then move to Tongatapu,” he added.

Ms Hokafonu told the meeting that the work on the Tonga Ocean Plan through the Marine Spatial Plan project and the SPAM project will be another important one this year.

Marine officer Brian Fusimalohi (right) and Ms Ta’hirih Hokafonu at the meeting. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

“That will include consultations with the members of the communities on the draft legislation that has been drafted so that we can get their feedback,” she said.

That consultation will cover all the major islands in Tonga.

And the focus on Healthy Oceans also demands that Tonga has the ocean plan in place soon.

All different units in the Division also advised on their work plans for 2020, including Communication and Media, Marine, Mangroves, Fanga’uta Lagoon and Invasive Species.

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