Bring back the fish

Mr Russ George (left), Ms 'Emeline Tuita and Mr Netani Gucake

Projects aims to replenish Tonga’s fish stock

By ILIESA TORA

Nuku’alofa (Nuku’alofa Times): A project that is being proposed for Tonga aims to replenish and restore the Kingdom’s fish supplies.

The Amira Green Environmental Services wants to use their tested method to help replenish the Ocean’s pastures within the Tonga waters and restore the supply of tuna stocks.

Led by Fijian Netani Gucake of the GES Fiji and supported by ocean scientist Russ George of Pasture Partners, the team has joined with the G5 Foundation, set up by the late King George Tupou V, to try and convince the Government of Tonga to give them the chance to trial their project in Tongan waters.

“This project will help meet some of the Special Development Goals (SDGs) and help the local economy grow, with results as the bottom line,” G5’s ‘Emeline Tuita said.

“We believe if we are given the go ahead to get this project going we will be able to help Tonga grow positively.”

GES Fiji’s Netani Gucake said they were interested to help Tonga because tuna stocks here had depleted over the years.

“This used to be one of the areas where tuna stocks were plentiful in the past but now there is hardly any tuna left to fish,” Mr Gucake said.

“Working with our team of scientists, we believe we have been able to put together a tested method that will help replenish ocean forests so that we can get back marine life in areas where we have lost that.”

Scientist Russ George said tests over the last 30-odd years have proven that ocean forests can be restored, with the end result being fish stocks also replenished.

He said the depleting tuna stock for example is not because there has been over-fishing but because ocean forests have been depleted.

“We have lost ocean forests around the Tonga and Pacific waters because of the changes happening to our environment on land,” he said.

“The direct result is our ocean forests die out because they are not receiving nutrition that would help them grow well.

“Fish and other marine life move from areas where there is no ocean forest and find areas where there are more ocean life because they need to be fed to stay healthy.

“Healthy fish means more eggs that can reproduce into more fish. But unhealthy fish means that fish eggs are minimised and the ability to reproduce is limited.”

The team has been meeting with different Government departments, including Fisheries, Land and Environment.

They also made a presentation at the Blue Economy national consultation last week.

Mr Gucake said they were hopeful that the Government of Tonga would give them the go-ahead to trial their method and see the outcome.

“Ocean forests can be restored within six months and that means fish supplies can be replenished within the short period of time,” Mr Gucake said.

Mr George said similar trials held in Canada amongst the native Indian communities there resulted in the outpouring of salmon supplies in an area that had recorded a dramatic fall for years previously.

“We believe that this is what we can also do in Tonga if we are given the chance,” he added.

The team wants Government’s approval of the project so that they can go back to interested investors and funders who are keen to help fund the project here.

“Once we are given the go-ahead here we will go back to meet our funders and investors who are keen to help us out here,” Mr Gucake said.

G5’s Ms Tuita said their focus is on signing a Private Public Partnership with Government through the different ministries involved – Lands, Fisheries and MEIDECC.

She added that the project could become the “best thing to happen to Tonga”.






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