Up until the 1990’s, ocean areas within Tonga were declared as open access for all Tongans, in the hopes of allowing everyone equal and fair sharing of its resources.
Over the years this caused a serious downfall in the status and health of the marine habitats, fish and invertebrate resources, that the communities heavily rely on for both subsistence and commercial activities. Coupled with increasing populations, land based pollution, run off, impacts from cyclones and storms, habitat destruction, the increasing threat of climate change and the rapid development of the coastal areas. The marine habitats suffered greatly, in some areas in Vava’u were reduced to less than 10% coral cover.
Marine habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass all play an important ecological benefit to the marine resources offering habitat, food and shelter for the reef fish and invertebrates. Reef builders are the important component, these hard corals and coral building algaes (crustose coraline algae) are the developers of the coral reefs with secondary lesser benefits provided by soft corals, sponges and seagrass. Both live hard coral cover and species diversity of hard corals are needed for a reef to provide multiple ecosystem services.
With weakend coral reefs, the overfishing of important ecological species such as groupers, snappers, emperorfish and other high carnivores and piscivores, as well as roving herbivores such as parrotfish and surgeonfish, can create a more dominant algae shift on the coral reefs. These fish are also the important species for human consumption causing a downward shift in fishing potential.
Many macro algaes alongside turf algae and cyanobacteria are reef competitors, meaning they can take over coral reefs, smothering the ability for the corals to photosynthesise and feed.
For coral reefs to survive, develop and to have larval recruitment of corals, the impacts have to be reduced. Ecosystems and species are heavily intertwined, and each species has its role.
When the ecosystem balance shifts from continuing impacts, dominance of lesser ecologically important species takes over, causing further inbalance in the coral reefs. This not only ecologically affects the coral reefs but also impacts the other services that are provided including food sources for consumption, domestic economic benefits, tourism benefits and providing shelter from waves.
Its not all doom and gloom though, Tonga and Vava’u are making important decisions in the management of their near-shore resources. We will talk more about this in the upcoming weeks as well as other important ocean information!
Ngaahi ‘elia ‘o e ‘Oseni
‘I he’etau hiki atu mei he ngaahi matafanga pea mo e ngaahi nofo’anga hakau feo ‘I he tahi mamaha, tongo pea mo e ngaahi ‘elia matatahi, ‘oku liliu ‘e ‘oseni hono fotunga ha mai (maama( fakatupu ‘e he maama), mafana pea mo hono ivi malohi) pea pehe foki ki he ‘ulungaanga ‘o e me’a mo’ui pea mo hono ‘atakai.
‘I he ‘oseni loloto ‘oku ‘I ai hono ngaahi tefito’I leia vetikale ‘e 5:
‘Epipelagic pe Photic Layer: ‘oku ‘I he mita ‘e 200 ki ‘olunga ki he fukahi ‘oseni, ‘oku ‘I heni foki mo e ngaahi me’a mo’ui ‘oku nau liliu ‘a e ivi mei he la’a ki he me’atokoni hange ko e plankton ‘a ia ‘oku ne tauhi e maama fe’unga mei he la’a ke fa’u ‘aki e me’atokoni, pea ‘oku ne fa’u ‘a e leia taupotu taha ki lalo ‘a e anga e fononga ‘a e me’atokoni ‘I he ‘oseni.
Mesopelagic pe Mesophotic- ‘Oku ‘I he vaha’a mita ko e 200 ki he 1000, ko e me’a mo’ui ‘oku ne ngaohi ‘ene me’atokoni ‘oku fetongi ia ‘e he ‘organic matter ‘oku ngoto hifo mei he fukahi tahi ‘a ia ko e tefito’I ma’au’anga me’atokoni ia ‘I he ‘elia ni ‘o kau kiai pea mo e plankton. ‘I lalo ‘I he tu’unga loloto ko’eni ko e me’a mo’ui ‘oku nau ma’u me’atokoni mei he ngaahi ivi mei he organic matter pe ko ha ngaahi kakano’I manu mei he ngaahi me’a mo’ui lalahi. ‘I he konga loloto ange ‘o e ‘oseni , ‘I he vaha’a mita ‘e 500-1000 ‘oku a’u ki he peseti ‘e 95 ‘o e fanga ika ‘o e tahi loloto ‘oku ma’u ai pea ko e peseti ‘e 65 ‘o e ngaahi me’a mo’ui hange ko e paka, uloula’avai pea mo e ‘uo ‘oku nau ‘I ai foki. Lahi ‘o e ngaahi me’a mo’ui ‘oku nau fa’u e bioluminescence, ‘a ia ko ha liliu ia ‘oku hoko ki he kemikale ‘a ia ‘oku ne fakatupu ha ma’u’anga maama.
Bathypelagic: ‘Oku fakapo’uli pea momoko ‘I lalo ‘I he vaha’a mita ‘o e 1000 pea mo e 4000, ka ‘oku kei lahi pe e ngaahi mo’ui ai, ko e ngaahi me’a mo’ui ‘o e ‘oseni ‘oku nau malava ke nau feangainga kinautolu ki he toe ma’olugaange ‘a e ivi malohi ‘o e vai ‘o e ‘oseni pea ‘oku fa’a fuo iiki honau mata, ‘oku nau malava foki kenau bioluminesce pea ‘oku ‘uli’uli hono lanu. Ko e me’a tokoni ki he ngaahi me’a mo’ui ni ‘a e organic matter (sinou). Ko e hydrothermal vents ‘oku ma’u kinautolu ‘I he ‘elia ni foki.
Abyssopelagic: ‘Oku ‘I he vaha’a mita ‘o e 4,000 ki he 6,000, pea ‘oku toe fu’u malohiange hono faingata’a pea ‘oku ma’ulalo ‘aupito hono tu’unga mafana, ko e tu’unga kehekehe koia ‘o hono fa’ahinga me’a mo’ui ‘oku fu’u holoki lahi. Ko e tefito’I me’a mo’ui ‘I he takele ‘o e ‘oseni ‘oku kau kiai ‘a e fa’ahinga hange ko e uloula’avai, ‘uo pea mo e paka. Ko e takele ‘o e ‘oseni ‘oku momo iiki pea mo pelepela ‘a hono ngaahi tokalelei, ‘oku ma’u foki ‘I he ngaahi loloto ni ‘a e fanga ki’I tafa mo’unga ‘I he kilisitahi ‘oku nau tupu hangatonu ki he fukahi vai, pehe pe foki ki he hydrothermal vents. Ko e ngaahi kakano mei he tofua’a ko e ngaahi me’atokoni tefito ia ma’ae ngaahi me’a mo’ui ‘oku nau nofo ‘I he ‘elia ni.
Kaikehe ‘oku kei toe pe me’a lahi ketau fononga kiai, ka ‘oku toe pe leia ‘e taha:
Ko e Hadal Layer: Ko e ‘elia loloto taha, fakapo’uli taha pea mo e momoko taha ‘I he ngaahi leia kotoa ‘o e ‘oseni, ‘oku ma’u ia ‘I lalo ‘I he mita ‘e 6,000. Ko e ‘elia ni foki ‘oku ‘iloa ko e tauhi’anga koloa loloto taha ia ‘o e mamani: ko e Marianas pea mo e Tongan Trenches ‘oku na tokoto ‘I he mama’o ‘o e loloto ‘o e fukahi ‘oseni. Ko e ngaahi nofo’anga ‘I he takele ko’eni ‘oku kapui ia ‘e he pelepela momoiiki pe ko hono me’a mo’ui ‘oku tatelau hono lahi, pea ‘oku toki ala ma’u e fanga ki’I komiuniti iiki ‘oku nau nofo takai ‘I ha ‘elia ‘oku ‘I ai ha kanomate kuo to ki tahi pe ha ngaahi me’a kuo mate.
Neongo ko e lahi taha ‘o e ngaahi ‘elia ko’eni ‘o e ‘oseni, ‘oku ‘ikai ketau lava ‘o mamata kiai, ‘oku nau fu’u mahu’inga fau ke poupou ki he’etau mo’ui, pea neongo pe ko e ha hono loloto ka ‘oku nau kei fehangahangai pe mo e ngaahi faingata’a. ‘I he ngaahi leia ko’eni, ‘oku lahi e ngaahi me’a mo’ui ‘oku nau fehikitaki ‘o nofo ai hange koia ko e fangamea, tuna, ngaahi me’a mo’ui ‘oku toto mafana, feke kae pehe ki he ngu feke.
‘I he ngaahi uike ka hoko mai te mau talanoa fakaikiiki atu ai ki ha ni’ihi ‘o e ngaahi nofo’anga laulotaha ko’eni pea mo hono ngaahi me’a mo’ui.
As we leave the shorelines and the shallow water habitats of coral reefs, mangroves and intertidal zones, the ocean changes its physical (light (photic), temperature and pressure) as well as biological and ecological characteristics.
Within the deep ocean there are 5 specific interconnected vertical layers:
Epipelagic or Photic Layer: found within the upper 200 meters of the ocean, found here are the primary producers such as plankton that maintain enough sunlight to photosynthesize forming the bottom layer of the food web.
Mesopelagic or Mesophotic – between 200 and 1000m the primary producers are replaced with sinking organic matter as the primary food source including plankton. Down at these depths the consumers are often scavengers finding nutrition in the organic matter or sunken carcasses from larger marine animals. In the deeper part, between 500-1000m up to 95% of all deep-water fish species are found and 65% of decapod (Crab, shrimp, lobster) are found. Many species create bioluminescence, a special chemical reaction that creates a light source.
Bathypelagic: its dark and cold down here between 1000 and 4000 meters, but even still there is much life, the marine organisms are adapted to high pressures of ocean water and often have small eyes, the ability to bio luminesce and are dark in colour. Food for these animals is often the sinking organic matter (snow). Hydrothermal vents are located within the bathypelagic area.
Abyssopelagic: between 4,000 to 6,000 meters, and at extreme water pressures and low temperatures, species diversity is greatly reduced. The primary organisms on the sea floor include the decapods (shrimp, lobster and crabs) The floor is a find mud sediment on these largely flat plains, found at these depths can be the sea mounts rising towards the ocean surfaces as well as hydrothermal vents. Dead carcasses from whales are often the main form of food for those animals that dwell here.
However, we still have further to travel, there is one more layer left:
The Hadal Layer: the deepest, darkest and coldest of all ocean layers, found below 6,000 meters. The world’s deepest known treasures: the Marianas and Tongan trenches lay far under the ocean’s surface. These bottom habitats are covered in a fine mud and marine organisms are sparse, finding small communities residing around fallen carcasses and dead matter.
Malo e lelei we are excited to introduce a new Ocean themed awareness campaign that will be soothing the radio waves over the next few months as well as being posted on bogs and websites. In order to ensure the sustainability of our oceans, we need to understand the current uses, issues and threats that are going on. So, let us take a look “Beyond the Reef”
Malo e lelei kau fanongo, ‘oku mau mafana ‘aupito ke fakafe’iloaki atu e kaveinga ‘oku ‘amanaki ke faka’ilo atu ‘I he’emau kemipeini fekau’aki mo e ‘oseni ‘a ia tene fakanonga kitautolu mei he’etau letio ‘I he ngaahi mahina ka hoko mai. Ke malava ke fakapapau’i ‘e tu’uloa hotau ‘oseni ‘oku fiema’u ketau mahino’i e ngaahi founga lolotonga ‘oku ngaue’aki kiai, ngaahi palopalema mo e ngaahi fakafe’atungia ‘oku hoko. Koia ai, tuku mu’a ketau vakai ange ki he “Mama’o atu ‘I he hakau”.
Near shore habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and intertidal mud flats provide many benefits (ecosystem services) for livelihood support and economic activities such as tourism and commercial fishing; regulatory services such as carbon storage, resilience to storms and disasters and provides habitats for biodiversity. They also provide social and cultural benefits including relaxation and spiritual sanctity.
‘I he ngaahi nofo’anga ofi ‘I he matafanga hange ko e feo, tongo mo e ngaahi ‘elia ‘I he tahi mamaha, ‘oku ne tokonaki ha ngaahi lelei lahi (ngaue ‘oku foaki ‘e he ‘ekosisitemi) ke ne poupou ki he’etau mo’ui faka’aho kae pehee foki ki he’etau ngaahi ngaue faka’ekonomika hange ko e takimamata mo e toutai faka-komesiale. ‘Oku malava foki ke mapule’I e ngaahi ngaue hange ko hono tanaki koia ‘o e kaponi, mo hono matu’uaki e ngaahi matangi malohi mo e ngaahi fakatamaki fakaenatula pehe foki ki he’ene foaki nofo’anga ki he ngaahi me’a mo’ui kehekehe ‘o e ‘oseni. ‘Ikai koia pe, ka ‘oku ne toe foaki e ngaahi lelei fakasosiale pea tuku faka-holo fakafonua hange ko’etau malolo mo vete puputu’u ‘i he ngaue pea mo e fakalaumalie foki.
However, the open oceans are also intertwined and linked with livelihoods, often without us seeing the ecosystem services directly. Over the following weeks, the programs will bring information on the deep ocean habitats and species, the activities and threats that are faced, and ways forward managing and protecting these vital ecosystem services and biodiversity.
Kaikehe, koe ‘oseni ‘oku faka-feakafi mo fehokotaki ia pea mo ‘etau mo’ui faka’aho. Ko hono angamaheni ‘oku ‘ikai malava ketau sio hangatonu ki he ngaahi lelei moe aonga ‘oku foaki mai ‘e he ‘ekosisitemi. ‘I he ngaahi uike ka hoko mai, ‘e tuku atu ai ‘e he’etau ngaahi polokalama ha ngaahi fkamatala fekauaki mo e nofo’anga ‘I he tahi loloto mo hono ngaahi me’amo’ui, ngaahi ngaue moe ngaahi fakafe’atungia ‘oku fehangahangai moia, pehe foki ki he ngaahi founga ke leva’I mo malu’I ‘aki ‘a e ngaue lelei ‘oku fakahoko ehe ngaahi ‘ekosisitemi.
To begin with, lets discuss these ocean boundaries, areas that define both nationally and internationally the rights of uses:
Te tau kamata leva ‘I hono talanoa’I ‘a e ngaahi fakangatangata ni ‘I he ‘oseni ‘aia ‘oku ne fakamatala’I e ngaahi totonu hono ngaue’aki ‘o tatau ‘I he faka-lotopule’anga pea mo e faka-tu’apule’anga foki.
The United National Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans. Tonga is both a signatory to the UNCLOS declaration and regulates the ocean areas under the Maritime Zones Act 2009.
Ko e konivesio ‘a e ngaahi fonua fakatahataha ‘I he lao ‘o e tahi (UNCLOS) ‘oku ne fakamatala’I e totonu mo e tefito’I fatongia ‘o ha fonua ki he founga hono ngaue’aki honau ‘oseni ‘I he mamani. Ko Tonga foki kuo fakamo’oni ki he fuakava ‘a e UNCLOS pea mo pule’I ‘a e ‘elia ‘o e ‘oseni ‘o fakatatau ki he lao ‘a e Malini pe ko ‘oseni 2009 ‘a ia ‘oku ‘iloa ko e Maritime Zone Act 2009.
Through this, the declared areas are:
‘I heni foki, ko e ngaahi ‘elia kuo fuakava’I ‘oku kau kiai
Internal Waters – 3.7 kilometres from the nearest land. This is where the coastal habitats are found including coral reefs, mangroves and intertidal areas.
Vai ‘I loto fonua – 3.7 kilomita mei he fonua ofi taha. Koe feitu’u eni ‘oku ma’u ai e ngaahi nofo’anga, kau kiai e hakau feo, tongo mo e ‘elia ‘I he tahi mamaha.
Territorial seas – up to 23km (12 nautical miles) from the nearest point of land. The territorial seas can be protected by the nation for domestic activities.
Potu tahi fakalotofonua– lahi hake he kilomita e 23 (maile tahi ‘e 12) mei he poini ofi taha ‘o e fonua. Ko e konga tahi ni ‘oku malava lelei ke pule’I ia ‘e he pule’anga ki he ngaahi ngaue fakalotofonua
Continental Shelf – describes the sovereign ownership of the seabed and subsoil of the submarine area up to 370km from land.
Faliki ‘o e konitineniti – ‘Oku ne fakamatala’I ‘a hono pule’I faka-Tu’I ‘o e faliki pea mo e kelekele ‘o e ‘elia ‘o e ‘oseni ‘o a’u ki he kilomita ‘e 370 mei he fonua.
Proclamation Boundary – a sovereign declared ocean boundary covering approximately 395,000 kilometres squared over the 4 island groups
Ngaahi ngatangata’anga kuo fakaha –ko ha ngata’anga ‘i ‘oseni kuo fakaha kuo pule’i ‘oku ne kapui ha ‘elia faka-fuofua ki he kilomita ‘e 395,000 sikuea ‘i he kotoa ‘o e ngaahi motu ‘e fa.
Exclusive Economic Area (EEZ) – 200 nautical miles or 370 kilometres from the nearest land covering an estimated ocean area of 700,000 km2.
‘Elia tu’umalie faka-‘ekonimika ‘o e fonua (EEZ)– ‘oku maile tahi ‘e 200 pe ko e kilomita ‘e 370 mei he fonua ofi taha ‘a ia ‘oku ne kapui e ‘elia ‘o e ‘oseni ‘oku fakafuofua ki he kilomita sikuea ‘e 7000,000.
These ocean areas define where habitats lay, species interact and migrate and where varying commercial and subsistence activities are conducted.
Ko e ngaahi konga tahi ko’eni ‘oku ne fakamatala’I e feitu’u ‘oku ‘I ai e ngaahi nofo’anga, felalave’I ‘a e ngaahi me’a mo’ui pea mo e feitu’u ia ‘oku nau nofo kiai pea ‘oku fakahoko ai e ngaahi ngaue faka-komesiale pea mo faka-taumu’a ki he ma’u me’atokoni mo e silini ‘a e famili
So, let us take a journey together “Beyond the Reef”…….
Koia ai tuku mu’a ketau fononga faka-taha pe pea mo e “Mama’o atu ‘I he Hakau”……
This programme supports the National Marine Spatial Planning Project.
Featured Photo credit: © Konstantin Tkachenko/Marine Photobank
Cheilinus undulatus – Tangafa IUCN Red List of Species: Endangered
Other common names: Napoleon wrasse, Maori wrasse.
Family: Wrasses/Labridae Max length: 2 meters
Maximum Age: 25 males and 32 females Max weight: 190 kg/ 418lbs
Reproductive Maturity Age: 5 – 7 years
Idetified through their big thick lips and distinctive head shape, the Humphead wrasse is the largest of all the wrasse family. During their lifetime, the wrasse will change colour and even sex!
This is called “Protogynous Heraphrodites” where some females will become males!
They have specialised conical teeth are used to eat molluscs (cowrie shells/pule), crustaceans (crabs (Paka)/lobsters (‘Uo)), echinoderms (starfish) and other invertebrates. Adults may also feed upon the predatory Crown of Thorns (‘Alamea)!
One of the most beautiful and majestic fishes, is also a highly prized fish for consumption but also for the live aquarium trade in Hong Kong. Both of these have led to extreme overfishing of the species.
IUCN Red List: http://bit.ly/2tRG8Vw
World Wildlife Fund (WWF): http://bit.ly/2z8cwIJ
Story and photos by Aneira Hasson….
“I chose this design based on what Tongan’s call ‘tauhi vā’, which is the idea of special awareness. The coconut leaves of the structure are bound – similar to how a traditional Tongan house would have been – and I just wanted to have fun with it, play around, see if what kind of structure I could make. I didn’t want it to be a house or a roof, I wanted it to be something fun.
Another factor in the design was the idea of ‘fakamuna’, or child’s play. The idea of fakamuna was again, not to create a shelter or a conventional structure, but to instead create the idea of being under a tree.
I didn’t want to put the leaves on so that they would create a shelter from the rain or the sun, I wanted the leaves to hang the same way they would from a tree and really give the sense that you were under a tree. I wanted to take these leaves that often would just be discarded, and give them value and purpose, subverting the usual way you see rubbish, reinventing it.
A big thanks to VEPA for trusting me to create this. Fakamuna in Tonga is undervalued. In reality, no one would have ever gotten to these islands in the first place if someone didn’t imagine it. You have to dream. Allowing me to renovate the space allowed me to imagine, to dream, to have fun with what this shelter could be.
It’s also a way to show the staff that they too can be creative and dream, continue to look at things in different ways.”
Find out more about Nqako Concepts by following them on Instagram @nQakoconcepts or visit their shop located in the Guttenbeil Plazza in Neiafu…….
VEPA and the Ocean Ambassadors are joining forces to raise funds to recycle the plastics on our beaches and coastal areas.
Fundraising Target: US$5,000
The funds collected will enable us to
As with any small island state, waste management practices are an ongoing and lengthy process that often end with low results that benefit the environment and habitats whilst supporting and implementing low cost initiatives that are in line with the economic status of the island group.
Recycling and reducing the waste remains an issue, in part due to a lack of infrastructure and resources to deal with the waste products. Tonga is heavily-reliant on imported products for food and economic development and has no main manufacturing processes within the country.
This means that every product that comes in stays here, with low ability of internally recycling and reducing the waste. Economically, recycling has been a low impact industry due to the high financial costs to ship the recycled products off the island whilst maintaining a profitable business.
Precious Plastics have free designs for machines that can be used to recycle plastics into useable products.
As whales and other marine life are such essential creatures in Tonga both culturally and economically, the project would create wearable items that are created through the plastics collected by community members.
Community groups and schools would benefit economically by being paid for the plastic collection, this money would come from the crowd funding of the pendants.
If you are a business based in Tonga that would like to sponsor this project please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coastal fisheries are critically important to community livelihoods and reef habitat health. Programs such as community managed reefs (SMAs) are being developed to provide benefits to both biodiversity and livelihoods.
In Tonga, many communities still practice traditional food preservation methods; in part due to limited electricity sources to freeze or refrigerate produce especially on the outer islands.
Fish can be preserved and cooked in a variety of ways including smoked over a fire, dried in the sun or salted.
When smoked over a fire, the fish becomes crispy and can be preserved for between a week to two weeks, at which time it can be boiled with coconut milk and onions. The smoking process can take up to a two weeks to complete.
Salted fish, allow for the families to store fish for 3 to 4 days, prior to salting the scales and innards of the fish are removed and the fish is covered with salt both inside and out and then stored in a sealed container.
Sun drying includes both octopus and fish, octopus are a favoured reef creature for local consumption. The sun drying process can be time consuming. Once the octopus or fish are cleaned, they are hung on sticks and left to dry for between a few weeks to a month.
Once they are dried, they are singed over a fire to kill any insect eggs such as flies.
The octopus or fish can then be eaten or stored for future meals. Dried octopus and fish can be eaten directly (kind of like jerky!).
Supporting sustainable ocean programs is a way of supporting traditional practices and livelihoods. Healthy oceans provide many benefits to communities both economically and for subsistence use.
To find out more about our support and efforts for sustainable ocean programs visit Vava’u Ocean Initiative.
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:
4th July – Kings Birthday (Public Holiday)
13th July – Agriculture Show
The fun and the madness begins – check back soon for more details.
15th September – World Clean Up Day
Get ready for another Plog!