Marine Property Rights in Relation to Giant Clam Mariculture in the Kingdom of Tonga

Marine property rights on the coastal waters of the Kingdom of Tonga are fairly uncomplicated. Ownership of Tonga's reefs. and lagoons (as well as its territorial waters as a whole) is vested in the Crown and has been so since the late 19th century. While such an arrangement effectively took away the traditional and customary rights of local groups over these waters, it allows open access to all Tongans for purposes of fishing, both subsistence and commercial. The main exceptions are certain restricted areas set aside as marine parks. Leases over reef sites for giant clam and other forms of mariculture can be negotiated with government. The Fisheries Act of 1987 and the Fisheries Regulations of 1989 provide the basic legislative framework for such leases. Specific terms and conditions relating to leases are negotiated under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Under existing legislation, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has fairly wide regulatory powers to ensure, among other things, that mariculture, and fisheries in general, proceed along sound lines. Tonga appears to possess many favourable features for giant clam mariculture. The country's many constituent and widely scattered islands support extensive reef and lagoon areas; the necessary legislative and tenurial framework is in place; while public awareness on the potential of clams as a major industry seem to be growing (Tonga's 'giant clam circle' project has contributed in this respect). The Ha'apai Group, with its large reef areas and generally favourable social environment, appears to be particularly well­ placed to support a major clam project. For purposes of establishing a commercial clam project, including one with foreign participation, the collaboration of local groups seems to be a vital pre-requisite. The involvement of local villagers can be particularly valuable for the policing of project sites to prevent poaching. Collaboration with other local groups also seems necessary, for example, the Fishermens' Association and local government officials.

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Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
DOI and Other Identifiers:
ISSN: 1034-4294 (Other)
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Total Pages:
JEL Codes:
Q57; Q21; Q22
Series Statement:
Research Reports in the Economics of Giant Clam Mariculture

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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