This report provides a detailed synthesis of the current ecological status of Tonga’s Special Management Area (SMA) program and the nations coral reef ecosystem. From 2016 to 2019, a total of 383 sites were surveyed across Tonga’s coral reef ecosystem to determine the health of the countries marine environment and the impacts of their approach to marine management. A one to two-page overview of 49 individual SMAs is included in this report.
The SMA program is Tonga’s version of community-based or local marine management, whereby communities are given the responsibility of looking after their own marine resources both for themselves and for future generations. Since its inception in 2002, it has grown incredibly fast, with almost all coastal communities in the country now either within an SMA or requesting one. Special Management Areas are divided into two parts: i) the SMA itself, in which only registered members of that community are allowed to fish, and ii) the Fish Habitat Reserve (FHR), with is a permanent no-fishing zone within each SMA.