Find Fisheries expertise in Tonga
- Overview of the industry
- Fishery bodies
Official estimates show that fisheries in 2008/09 accounted for 4% of the GDP of Tonga. Formal jobs directly related to fishing represented 3% of the total number of formal jobs in the country, or about 1000 individuals. Fish is Tonga’s largest single export, representing about 36% of the country’s exports. The major exports by value are tuna (29%), live rock (21%), soft coral (12%), deep water demersal fish (11%), and aquarium fish (10%). Fishery products are usually exported unprocessed and transported to countries such as the USA and Fiji.
Half of the fishing sector (based on volume of catch) is coastal commercial fishing (49%), coastal subsistence (37%), and offshore locally based fishing (15%). Coastal fishing is primarily carried out for subsistence purposes and for sales in local markets, while offshore fisheries are undertaken on an industrial scale.
The lack of large freshwater bodies in Tonga means that freshwater catches are negligible.
The aquaculture sub-sector does also not constitute an important sector with a recorded total production of only 0.8 tonnes in 2008. The catch profile of Tongan marine fisheries includes mainly snappers and tuna (albacore, bigeye, yellowfin) as well as marlin and swordfish. The catch profile of the aquaculture sub-sector includes tilapia, mussels, oysters and seaweed.
Key non-government institutions include the Fishing Industry Association of Tonga which represents the larger fishing companies, and the Tonga National Fishing Association which represents mainly the smaller fishing operations.
The main government department is the Fisheries Division (formerly, the Ministry of Fisheries) and the Fisheries Advisory Committee. The Fisheries Act 2002 specifies that the Minister shall, in consultation with the Fisheries Advisory Committee, determine the total allowable catch or total allowable level of fishing with respect to any stock of fish, subject to the provisions of this Act or as provided in a fisheries management agreement.