The Offshore Resource Assessment and Development program aims to assess Tonga’s utilized and unutilized offshore fisheries resources and to provide advice to executive management on the conservation of these resources with relation to fisheries management and development. The development and monitoring of ecological performance indicators with relation to Tonga’s major offshore fisheries is to ensure sustainability of fishing activities and this is therefore an ongoing function of resource assessment and development. The two major offshore commercial fisheries for Tonga are tuna and snapper fisheries. Data collections at ports during unloading for both fisheries plus the information from logsheets are the main sources of information for the management of these two fisheries.
Tuna Fishery - Data Collection of Tuna Resources
This program is funded by the Japanese Trust Funds (JDF) under the Tuna Commission. Data are collected from fishing vessels during unloadings at port and also fishing companies after packing and exporting of fish. Data are utelised locally for different purposes including reports such as annual reports, quarterly and monthly reports. Subsequently, data are sent to SPC for stock assessment purposes.
Snapper Fishery - Data Collection of Snapper Resources
Data collection for snapper fishery is an on-going activity being carried out by this section.
Stock Assessment - Observer Program
Stock assessment of snapper fishery was started since December 2012 through an observer programme funded by the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and the Tonga Fisheries Division. This progam employs local qualified observers who have been trained under the observer program of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Tonga Fisheries Division. In 2010, a preliminary observer program was conducted to assess the completion of logsheet by fishing vessels and also a preparation for the actual stock assessment. In this stock assessment, observers are deployed on snapper fishing vessels to collect all relevant information on fishing operation including fishing positions, fishing efforts, and biological samples such as gonads, otoliths, and length frequency of snapper species. This program will continue until 2013 and the results of this study will be used to review the existing management plan for snapper fishery in Tonga.