Exploring the marine resources of Tonga

In May of 2017, a team of international and national marine researchers joined together on board the Yacht Plan b, through the Waitt Institute, to survey the near-shore marine habitats of Ha’apai and Vava’u for the Vava’u Ocean Initiative.

The marine surveys included coral cover, fish diversity and biomass and mobile invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, clams, lobster and more. The data collected is used to support community managed fisheries programs called Special Management Areas (SMAs) alongside proposed conservation areas (MPAs) on uninhabited islands.

Photos © Joe Lepore 2017

Coral reef habitats and marine species are threatened by a myriad of impacts including over fishing, pollution, natural and invasive predators and climate change. Programs such as SMAs and MPAs are a management practice to conserve biodiversity and increase marine resources to support sustainable livelihoods and economic development.

Other practices to support sustainable and healthy oceans are:

  • Reducing single use plastics including shopping bags and water bottles
  • Reducing land based run off and pesticide pollution
  • Supporting sustainable fisheries and fishing practices
  • Do not purchase marine souveneirs such as black coral, Triton trumpet shells and turtle shells


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