COMMUNITY BASED RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IN OVAKA'S COASTAL SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AREA
COMMUNITY BASED RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IN OVAKA'S COASTAL SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AREA
As a small island nation with few valuable natural resources, the Kingdom of Tonga consequently faces various serious environmental issues. In particular, fisheries resource profile report stated that the reef fishery in Tonga is considered to be moderately to seriously overexploit. Some fish species including giant clams’ species, and local mullet species, Mugil cephalus, are believed to be on the verge of becoming locally extinct (Bell et al. 1994). See Annex 1: Fisheries Resource profile report This trend has been attributed to the effects of introducing highly effective fishing methods, increase numbers of fishers, destructive fishing practices as well as from the impact of climate change.
In addition, a National workshop conducted in Tonga with representatives from coastal communities including Ovaka on Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) reported that threats to fisheries and ecosystems are related to factors such as climate change, habitat loss and land erosion, pollution, over-harvesting, coastal development and exponential population growth. Furthermore, a recent study of the finfish and invertebrates in Tonga by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community reported that the finfish resources were poor with mean sizes of several fish families were below 50% of the maximum values, indicating that the fish population was impacted by fishing. Many of these issues are felt even more keenly by the residents of Ovaka, a small outer island in the northern Vava'u group. Due to overfishing of the reef area around the island (and indeed much of Vava'u), a lack of fish is noticeable, with dire consequences for a community that relies on the surrounding waters for nourishment, sustenance, and economic livelihood.

Moreover, a consultation meeting conducted with the Ovaka community in 2007 regarding the status of the marine resources within the Ovaka’s inshore area shows that overfishing and degradation of fish habitat happened. The coral reefs areas have degraded significantly compared to what it used to be in the 1940s. Inshore fishing catch (quantity and sizes) have also declined to about 40% of what they used to be in the 1940s. Similar trends were also seen in several inshore resources such as octopus, lobster, giant clams, sea anemones, chitons, ark clams, sea urchins and several shellfish species.
The main reasons behind the overexploitation and fish habitat degradation in Ovaka’s reefs area is due to increased fishing pressure and using destructive fishing practices such as smashing of fish habitat. It was also noted that there are too many fishers from other areas fishing in the Ovaka’s reefs areas. Importantly, it is accepted by the Ovaka community that realistic resolution of this problem depends almost entirely on sustainable use of resources in the natural environment. Hence, its survival both in the short-term and long-term perspectives is based on ensuring that sustainable development is pursued seriously.

: The project aims towards direct conservation and management of the marine coastal (inshore) environment through community-based management efforts of the Ovaka community through their SMA and no-take zones (FHRs). It also works towards further promoting sustainable utilization of inshore resources through management measures of the SMA. Overall, it would contribute to the global effort on conservation of marine biodiversity, through effective collaboration between local communities and relevant partners in Tonga. Additionally, in a time when environmental protection is becoming increasingly important throughout the world, it is important to note that not only will the SMA project protect Ovaka's food resources, it will also continue to develop the reefs aquatic diversity. By bringing in new species of fish and giant clams as well as constantly monitoring the amount of fishing, Ovaka's surrounding natural environment will be maintained, preserved, and even enhanced. This could be assessed from underwater resource surveys to determine status of fish stock and habitat health as a result of conservation and management.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
KOMITI FAKAKOLO ‘A OVAKA
Country:
Fiji
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
Grant Amount:
US$ 48,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 500.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 6,839.00
Project Number:
TON/SGP/OP4/CORE/10/06
Status:
Project Terminated Before Completion

Grantee Contact

Mr System Administrator
 

Address

OVAKA ISLAND
VAVAU ,

SGP Country office contact

Ms. Akisi Bolabola
Email:
Ms. Losana Mualaulau
Phone:
(679) 331 0541
Fax:
(679) 331 0540
Email:

Address

C/O UNDP Pacific Office, Private Mail Bag
Suva