Tongan exports up since 2015, but fisheries still face some challenges

Tongan fish exports are up by 73%, Tonga’s Fisheries CEO Dr Tuikolongahau Halafihi said today.

Speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency conference, Dr Halafihi said exports had risen to 1743 tonnes.

The value of fish exported had risen by 54% to $10 million.

Dr Halafihi attributed the rise to the restructuring of Fisheries into a separate Ministry in 2015.

He said there had been a renewed focus on fisheries resources as a national priority.

The Ministry was increasing the availability of fish on our local markets by requiring all by-catch from licensed foreign vessels to be landed for sale in Tonga.

The Ministry has licensed seven foreign vessels to catch tuna.

“We are also exploring the potential for a deepwater Bluenose line fishery on our sea mounts, with support from New Zealand,” Dr Halahafi said.

The Ministry had begun implementing special management areas (SMAs) for community fisheries.

Only people from within the community are allowed to harvest fish.

The Ministry planned to have more than 30 SMA’s, with a long term target of  100 areas.

Dr Halahafi said the coastal fisheries not covered by either an SMA or a commercial fishery were a significant challenge for Tonga.

He said the Ministry expected to start registering coastal fishermen and their vessels soon.

Dr Halahafi told the conference commercial fisheries and aquaculture in Tonga faced challenges.

“We are enthusiastic and optimistic about aquaculture, but at this stage we are still in the development phase for potential industries including seaweed, pearls, clams, sea cucumber, and milk fish,” he said.

“The sequence of cyclones experienced in Tonga last year damaged years of work in this area, with Cyclone Winston in particular, wiping out both seaweed and milkfish trials.”

The main points

  • Tongan fish exports are up by 73%, Tonga’s Fisheries CEO Dr Tuikolongahau Halafihi said today.
  • Speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency conference, Dr Halafihi said exports had risen to 1743 tonnes.
  • The value if fish exported had risen by 54% to $10 million.
  • Dr Halafihi attributed the rise to the restructuring of Fisheries into a separate Ministry in 2015.

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