The first ever national workshop on Special Management Areas (SMAs) was opened on Wednesday 14 October by the Governor of Ha’apai District, Mo’ale Finau. In his opening remarks, Governor Finau stressed that that the whole of Tonga need to embrace the SMA programme in order to preserve all marine life in our coastal areas not only for our immediate needs but most importantly for future generations.
“The current culture of taking as much as we can without thinking about tomorrow must stop. By managing our coastal areas ourselves will ensure that the sharp decline in fish and other living things in our seas will stops. We are seeing this happening all over Tonga, the abundance of fish that our grandparents enjoyed are no longer there. It’s up to us to work together, in our villages, towns and islands to reverse this decline now. No one else will do it for us,” said Governor Finau.
There are currently nine registered SMAs in Tonga with another twenty one applications being processed by the Department of Fisheries. Representative from all nine SMAs were at the workshop to share their experiences. Also in attendance were members of the twenty one villages who have lodged applications for SMAs. Deputy Secretary for Fisheries, Dr Siola’a Malimali gave an overview of the current status of SMAs in Tonga and reminded the 65 community representatives from Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai that they are here to learn from each other.
The workshop also visited one of the Ha’apai SMAs at Felemea Island and discussions continued on Friday 16 October followed by a farewell dinner at the Maamafo’ou Hall in Pangai.
For further information contact Leanne Fernandes, Senior Project Advisor, Marine & Coastal Biodiversity Management in Pacific Island Countries (MACBIO) at [email protected]