TONGA, Felemea Village, ‘Uiha Island, Ha’apai Islands - July 2010
Refurbishment of an existing community hall and its facilities in support of the protection of two Fish Habitat Reserves totaling 368 acres for a duration of 10 years
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Felemea Village is one of two villages on ‘Uiha Island in the Ha’apai island group. In January 1995, the entire Ha’apai group was declared as a Conservation Area in principle by the Tongan government under the South Pacific Biodiversity Conservation Program. The marine area near Felemea used to be abundant in species such as clams, sea slugs, seaweeds, crab, lobster and a variety of reef fish, which have been threatened due to overfishing. The community has indicated a willingness to more aggressively protect its marine resources. Like all community halls, Felemea’s is the main venue for village events such as meetings, workshops, women’s and youth activities, pre-school, etc. Seacology is funding the refurbishment of the hall, including a new floor with tiling, doors, window frames and louvers, electrical repairs, repainting, installing of a plastic water tank and guttering, and the provision of tables and chairs for meetings. In return for Seacology’s support, the people of Felemea will actively manage the two Fish Habitat Reserves for minimum duration of 10 years. *
UPDATE January 2011 - Field Representative Sione Faka'osi visited the project site in August 2010, accompanied by Deputy Director of Fisheries Siola'a Malimali and Ha'apai-based Fisheries Officer Sailosi'Afoli. A village meeting was held, which was a good opportunity for the community to learn more about Seacology, and also to discuss and clarify project activities and outcomes. The short trip demonstrated the close working relationship between the Seacology field representative, the Ministry of Fisheries and the community of Felemea. Shipment of construction materials began in early October. A community meeting regarding the conservation component of the program was held on November 13, with discussions of both positive developments regarding the marine areas, as well as areas which need strengthening. Sione visited the project again in early January, and reported that flooring, windows, paint and electrical work were all completed. All that remains is to install the water tanks, and purchase tables and chairs. Sione believes that all work should be completed by February. While there, he met with the Village Committee to discuss the work undertaken, remaining tasks, upcoming activities in relation to protecting of the Special Managed Areas (SMA) and Fisheries Habitat Areas (FHA). A Seacology expedition will visit the project in August 2011.
UPDATE June 2011 - Field Representative Sione Faka’osi reports that the renovations of the building are completed. The new water tank is already full of fresh water. The village is looking forward to welcoming members of the August 2011 Seacology expedition to Tonga. The Minister of Fisheries is continuing to follow up with the Village Management Committee regarding conservation. There is less abuse of village rules about the use of marine resources than previously, and there have been no major issues in the last quarter.