Tonga has completed the processes towards achieving its 30 percent (%) Marine Protected Area target that the government had committed to at the 2017 United Nations Ocean Conference.
And the Minister for Environment (MEIDECC), Hon. Poasi Tei launched “Tonga’s Marine Atlas” to commemorate World Ocean’s Day, as well as celebrating the achievements towards developing Tonga’s Ocean Plan at the Davina House in Ma’ufanga on June 8.
“We are marking the completion of processes towards achieving Tonga’s 30% MPA target by the year 2020 that our leaders have committed to at the UN Ocean Conference back in 2017,” he said.
“In choosing to develop a comprehensive ocean plan that protects 30% of Tonga’s waters, Tonga is choosing to ensure a sustainable future for current and future generations.”
Marine protected areas are essential for safeguarding biodiversity and the health of marine ecosystems. They provide sanctuary for species to mature, reproduce, and help restore healthy populations within and beyond their borders.
Tonga’s Marine Atlas and the process to create the Tonga Ocean Plan utilized best available science and relied on extensive input from ocean stakeholders and communities.
The United Nations has designated June 8 annually as World Oceans Day, – a day for humanity to celebrate the ocean and to remind people how important these oceans are for our existence.
This year’s theme is “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods”. Ko e Oseni- hono ngaahi me’a mo’ui pea koe ma’u’anga mo’ui.
“The theme sheds light on the wonder of the ocean and how it is our life-source, supporting humanity and every other organism on earth,” says Hon. Tei.
As in the most recent years, this year also serves as a declaration of intentions that launches a decade of challenges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” by 2030.
Tonga is joining the rest of the world in recognition of the vast ocean that provides and sustains us and connects our global community.
The World Ocean’s Day celebration was attended by local government officials, representatives from the private sector, non-government agencies and international organizations, namely the WAITT Institute and IUCN.
Government acknowledged the financial and technical assistance from the WAITT Institute, IUCN, and VEPA; as well as the ongoing commitment of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Fisheries and Ministry of MEIDECC for coordinating the development of Tonga’s Ocean Plan.