Nuku’alofa – July 16, 2021: 5.10pm (Enviro News): His Majesty’s Cabinet has approved Tonga’s Ocean Management Plan that will provide for the sustainable management of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covering an estimated 700,000km2.
Beginning in 2015 under Cabinet decision, the Government of Tonga initiated the Oceans 7 Technical Committee to formalize and implement the pathway for marine spatial planning to develop and implement 30% marine protected areas within Tonga’s economic exclusive area (EEZ), which aligns with the Tongan Strategic Development Framework, Convention on Biological Diversity, and Sustainable Development Goal #14 (Life below Water).
The aim for Tonga’s ocean plan is the “ecologically sustainable, social and economic development of Tonga’s ocean for the benefit of all Tongans.”
Marine spatial planning (MSP) provides an integrated holistic approach to ocean management.
Consultations upon the Ocean Management Plan or Marine Spatial Plan began in 2018 for general awareness on ocean uses, economic and cultural activities, and the basis of Tonga’s ocean plan.
Based on this first consultation, the Government developed a marine spatial plan that includes marine protected areas and other ocean management areas.
In 2020, the Government undertook further consultations, sharing the map of the placement of these areas. This robust consultation process included all 4 island groups with community, Government, and private sector stakeholders.
This is indeed a great achievement for the future of Tonga’s efforts towards sustaining the ocean and its resources for future generations.
The Oceans 7 is co-chaired between the Chief Executive Officers for the Ministry for Environment (MEIDECC), Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and Ministry of Fisheries and with implementation between Ministries from Internal Affairs, Infrastructure, Tourism and Marine and Ports, Finance and Ports Authority.
Technical and financial support is provided by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Waitt Institute, Oceans5, Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea, German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Vava’u Environmental Protection Association.