28 Mar 2017

Tonga coastal fisheries population struggling

8:10 am on 28 March 2017

Tonga's Ministry of Fisheries says the country's coastal fish population has declined by up to 50 percent over the past decade and remedial action is needed.

The Ministry's CEO Tu'ikolongahau Halafihi said in the past local fishermen could collect fish around the coasts but now they need to go out beyond the reefs and cover longer distances.

Dr Halafihi said it was more costly and more dangerous for fishermen.

He said the government was creating Special Management Areas where community-based conservation measures are put in place and hopes to have the whole country covered within five years.

The government was also upping its outreach efforts in schools to promote sustainable fishing.

"The best thing to do is to educate the people to understand that we have limited resources, that we have limited marine resources in Tonga, compared to the growing population and also increasing demand especially for commercial fisheries," he said.

There are 13 established SMAs in Tonga with 16 more in the process of being set up,