January 2012

Conservation benefit: Support of 531 acres of Fish Habitat Reserve for 10 years

Community benefit: Refurbishment a community hall and its facilities; and new bathroom, water tank, gutters and furnishings

Like many coastal communities in Tonga, the village of Ovaka is facing the fast depletion of its inshore fisheries resources, loss of fish habitat, and land erosion. The main causes include over-fishing on the reef, destructive and efficient fishing methods, land-based environmental disturbances by human activities, and natural disturbances due to climate change.

The Ovaka Special Managed Area (SMA), with a total area of 1,140 hectares (2,817 acres, including Ovaka Island and Avalau Island) was one of the first six SMAs that the Government of Tonga declared in 2008. The Ovaka SMA has an Action Plan that was developed with help from the Ministry of Fisheries. However, there is little understanding of how effectively the SMA has been managed. Increased community involvement in monitoring is crucial to effectively manage the Fish Habitat Reserve within the SMA.

Working with our NGO partner, the Tonga Community Development Trust, the community has agreed to actively manage their 215-hectare (531-acre) Fish Habitat Reserves for at least 10 years. In return, a Seacology grant will let the community repair its dilapidated community hall, and add bathrooms and a rainwater collection system. Adults and children alike will use the hall for meetings and activities, and visitors to the island will stay there. This project is very similar to one in Felemea, Tonga, which a Seacology expedition visited  in 2014.

Full or partial funding for this project provided by
Project Updates
January 2015
The renovated and expanded community hall is now the center of all community activities. There is good news about the SMA: After three cases of illegal fishing were prosecuted in 2013, fishermen...
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June 2014
According to Field Representative Sione Fakaosi, “The renovation and extension for the community hall of Ovaka has been completed. The community was waiting for tiles from Tongatapu to complete...
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February 2014
The project was set to be completed in November 2013; however, delays in shipment of supplies from the mainland caused the project to be behind schedule. As of this writing, one water tank is on...
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June 2013
Tonga Field Representative Sione Fakaosi reports that the extension for the village hall has been completed, as well as repair and replacement of the windows louvers and roofs. Work on the fence...
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June 2012
The first payment was wired in April 2012. An inception meeting between project partners was conducted on April 27. Discussions were focused on the implementation arrangement and processes and...
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