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New report outlines status of Tongan marine environments

15
May 2020

Posted By

Patrick Smallhorn-West

The Kingdom of Tonga Special Management Area report 2020 is now available online.

The report provides an overview of the current the status of Tonga’s coral reef ecosystem and its approach to local marine management: the Special Management Area (SMA) program.

The SMA program gives communities the responsibility of looking after their own marine environment, including creating no-take Fish Habitat Reserves. The program was introduced in 2002 and there are now more than 50 SMAs across the country.

Lead author Patrick Smallhorn-West, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, is also a National Geographic Explorer. He says the report is written for anyone interested in the SMA program, or in the health of Tonga’s oceans.

“It provides lots of information that will be useful, including maps and photos,” Mr Smallhorn-West said.

“It also includes infographics on the rules of the SMA program and how SMAs work. Most importantly, the reports for each of the 49 SMA communities are available in both Tongan and English,” he said.

The report is based on a four-year collaboration with the Tongan Ministry of Fisheries, and is intended to act as a benchmark for the current ecological condition of Tonga’s coral reefs and reef fish fishery, as well as the effectiveness of the SMA program.

From 2016 to 2019, reef surveys were conducted at more than 350 sites throughout 49 SMAs across Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u. This information has been used to provide detailed information on the status of the marine ecosystem within each SMA.

The report also provides the first national synthesis of the countries coral reefs and highlights concerns in some parts of the country for their health. In many places coral reefs were damaged by cyclones, coral bleaching, pollution and overfishing.

“We hope that this information will be useful for Tonga in the years to come,” Mr Smallhorn-West said.

REPORT

http://purl.org/spc/digilib/doc/iwyna

CONTACT

Mr Patrick Smallhorn-West (Townsville, Australia)
E: patrick.smallhornwest@jcu.edu.au

Tonga's Special Management Area (SMA) program gives communities the responsibility of looking after their own marine environment, including creating no-take Fish Habitat Reserves. Credit: Patrick Smallhorn-West.
Tonga's Special Management Area (SMA) program gives communities the responsibility of looking after their own marine environment, including creating no-take Fish Habitat Reserves. Credit: Patrick Smallhorn-West.

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ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au