WASHINGTON, April 17, 2019 – More than 40 coastal communities in Tonga and some 10 thousand Tongans directly engaged in fishing will benefit from improved management and recovery of fishery stocks, as well as better regulations, under a US$10 million grant approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
The Tonga Pathway to Sustainable Ocean Project aims to improve fisheries governance in Tonga’s tuna longline, deep water snapper and inshore commercial fisheries, through enhanced licensing, registration and fishing rights frameworks. This will support Tonga to improve compliance and protect Tongan communities’ access and management of fish stocks in Tongan waters.
“Ensuring the sustainable use of our offshore and inshore fish stocks is vital to the economic prosperity of Tonga,” said Semisi Fakahau, Minister for Fisheries for the Kingdom of Tonga. “Guided by our Tonga Fisheries Sector Plan, we look forward to working with the World Bank to improve our governance, knowledge base and developing our fisheries and aquaculture industries to benefit all Tongan families.”
Tonga is heavily dependent on its fisheries and ocean resources for food, transport, economic development and culture. While commercial fisheries jobs in Tonga represent a modest two percent of national employment, subsistence fishing is a vital part of Tongan life, with an estimated 82 percent of Tongan families involved in reef fishing. Fisheries, marine biodiversity and coral reefs are a critical part of Tonga’s growing tourism industry, estimated at 7.7 percent of annual GDP. While the fisheries sector is one of the most promising avenues for economic growth, implementation of sustainable management frameworks in Tonga remains compromised by a lack of measurable targets, financing plans and monitoring; all gaps this project will address.
“Our experience in supporting Pacific coastal communities in fisheries and marine resources management has shown that improved fisheries lead to more sustainable communities, healthier ecosystems, and stronger economies,” said Michel Kerf, Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “With so many Tongans relying on coastal and marine ecosystems, we are proud to be supporting Tonga to establish healthier, sustainable fisheries and marine environments that deliver positive economic, social and environmental outcomes.”
The project will improve fisheries monitoring and help strengthen Tonga’s Special Management Area Program. In the aquaculture sub-sector, the project will increase the positive economic impacts of mabé pearls and giant clams, and support at least eight new women-owned mabé pearl businesses.
The US$10 million grant comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries, and will be implemented by Tonga’s Ministry of Fisheries.