The Ministry of Fisheries is relatively a new government agency that served as an arm of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry since 1940’s with a mandate to manage and develop Tonga’s aquatic resources. In 1953 the Ministry later embarked on a long history of fishing vessel operation when the 14m fishing vessel ‘Alaimoana was purchased from New Zealand and to date a total of fourteen vessels operated under the Department, seven of which were donated by Government of Japan and one vessel by Government of Australia. In 1991 Cabinet gave the Department of Fisheries independence to function as Ministry of Fisheries and development effort was directed towards the industrial scale fisheries and limited expansion of small-scale fisheries. Significant milestones since 1991 include the new legislations (Fisheries Management Act 2002 and the Aquaculture Act 2003) which empowered the Ministry to prepare and keep under review plans for conservation, management and development of fisheries in the waters of Tonga. A new Corporate Plan clearly stipulated the Ministry’s vision, mission and goals for the plan period 2004 to 2007. In 2006 Government of Tonga reform resulted in the merge of the Ministry of Fisheries with the Ministry of Agriculture & Food and the Ministry of Forests to form the Ministry of Agriculture & Food, Forests and Fisheries. Today 2016 the Cabinet again gave the Fisheries Division independece to function as Ministry of Fisheries and a new Cooperate Plan 2016 - 2018 has been developned. This new CP aims to provide a renewed focus on the sustainable management of our fisheries, to support the establishment of community based special management areas, and to foster sustainable and profitable commercial fisheries and aquaculture.
Four core values which lead the Ministry to accomplish its Vision & Mission are:
- Efficiency & Effectiveness
Tonga’s fishing ground stretches from 15OS to 23.5OS latitude and 173OW to 177OW longitude. The extent of Tonga’s undeclared EEZ is approximately 700,000km2 compared to its land area of 747km2. hence the challenge lies in effectively managing and maximising sustainable development potentials of aquatic resources. The core function of the Ministry of Fisheries involves conserving, managing, developing and sustainable utilization of the Kingdom’s aquatic resources to ensure food security and improve the social and economic well-being of the people of Tonga