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In 2016 a partnership was developed between the Tongan Ministry of Fisheries and James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. Its aim was to implement the first stage of a Tongan national coral reef monitoring project, and to provide an overview of the current status of Tonga’s Special Management Area (SMA) program. Since 2002 the Ministry of Fisheries has been heavily focused on expanding the SMA program, and communities throughout Tonga have been enthusiastic about introducing local marine management. As a result of this momentum, the Ministry has focused primarily on implementation. However, this came at the cost of monitoring, and until now there was very little information available on whether the SMA program was achieving its target objectives. Until this information was available, it has not been possible to fully demonstrate the efficacy of Tonga’s SMA program. This document provides the missing details on the current ecological status and impacts of Tonga’s SMA program. It provides a broad overview of the program on a national scale, including detailed reports on each SMA community and impact assessments of the oldest SMA communities.

Full Report (Pdf)