Aquatic biosecurity is a system of standardized protocols and measures to deal with biological risks in aquatic environments (e.g., risk of diseases and pests, genetic pollution and invasive species). The main aims of aquatic biosecurity are to safeguard human health, the environment and national economies. Good aquatic biosecurity requires a holistic and a proactive approach between different Government institutions, agencies and other key stakeholders (e.g., quarantine, biosecurity, environment, customs, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, farmers, exporters, etc.).
The aquaculture sector in Tonga is still in its infancy, but it contributes to a certain extent to improving food and nutrition security and improves income generation. The most important farmed aquatic species are introduced such as Kappaphycus alvarezii, Pteria penguin and Tilapia, while others are native, such as giant clams and sea cucumbers. Furthermore, new aquatic species introductions are being pursued for further aquaculture development. On top of that, aquatic animal diseases are a significant threat to the sustainability and productivity of the national aquaculture sector, which is known for its high status on aquatic animal health. The geographical isolation of Tonga, the limited availability of specialist expertise and resources, and narrow prospects for development of specialist capability across multiple disciplines are some of the significant challenges that the country face in implementing sustainable aquaculture development and hence, effective aquatic biosecurity. The Fisheries Management and Development Division, in collaboration with National and International partners, will implement the National Aquatic Biosecurity Strategy during 5 years, starting on January 2018 until December 2022.
With the generous assistance of the SPC, launching of the Tonga National Strategy on Aquatic Biosecurity was a success. A number of line ministries, Ministry of Revenue and Custom, Ministry of Infrastructure and MEIDECC (Environment) were present at the ceremony, with the leading of the CEO of the Ministry of Fisheries, Dr. Tu’ikolongahau Halafihi and the Fisheries Staff.
The prayer service was conducted by Rev ‘Ikani Tolu of the Free Wesleyan Church.