‘Atata Island

February 2017

Conservation benefit: Support of 440-acre fish habitat reserve for 15 years

Community benefit: Rebuilding of community center, alternative livelihood program

Like many island communities, the village of ‘Atata has seen the rapid depletion of its inshore fishery in recent years. The causes? Overfishing, erosion, and climate change.

Just offshore from the village is the ‘Atata Special Management Area (SMA). It has a total area of about 1,965 acres and includes a 440-acre no-take fish reserve. Legally, only the people of ‘Atata and others approved by the ‘Atata SMA committee may fish there, but the rules have not been well enforced.

The ‘Atata community has pledged to work closely with Tonga’s Ministry of Fisheries to prosecute poachers. Community members also want to explore possible sources of income, including handicrafts and weaving, as alternatives to fishing.

A Seacology grant will fund rebuilding the village’s community center, which was destroyed by a cyclone. It will be used for many purposes, including community meetings, women’s weaving and other development activities, and a preschool. Community members will rebuild the structure and add a bathroom. They will also  install tanks and guttering to help ensure a reliable supply of fresh water for the village.

This project is similar to successful Seacology efforts in other Tongan villages where SMAs were not being enforced. Our NGO partner, the Tonga Community Development Trust, promoted awareness of the value of the marine resources. As a result, community members now know more about local natural resources and feel a greater sense of pride, ownership, and responsibility.

Project Updates
June 2018
Fortunately, Cyclone Gita caused only minor damage to the building and materials stored inside it. But since then, strong winds and rain have continued to delay construction work.
March 2018
Cyclone Gita, with sustained winds of 144 mph, caused extensive damage in Tonga last month. The storm tore roofs off many houses and collapsed the Tongan Parliament building. We were afraid of...
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January 2018
Most of the community hall has been built, and the roof is finished. Installation of the ceiling, windows and doors is not yet complete. The fish reserve is being protected.
July 2017
All the building materials have arrived on 'Atata, and construction of the community hall is well underway. Seacology field representative Sione Faka'osi and program manager Mary Randolph got a...
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May 2017
Construction materials have been ordered from one of the main suppliers in the capital, Nuku’alofa, but unusually strong winds and hurricane warnings have delayed shipment. Five small fishing...
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