The dependency of small island economies on natural resources coupled with the pubic nature of these resources means that sustainability is a topical issue especially when development projects offer opportunities for "better living" for communities. For a mangrove dependent community of Pangaimotu in Vavau in Tonga tourism development offers better income from employment opportunities. Yet reclaiming mangrove areas for tourism development is likely to impact on fisheries resources that have traditionally been the main form of livelihood for the community. It is argued that for small island communities, whenever development activities ignore the critical role of mangroves on fisheries resources, the wider implications to the community are also overlooked. In this paper an inter-sectoral economic model is used to demonstrate the impact it would have on fisheries resources in Pangaimotu if tourism is developed beyond a certain capacity. The sustainability of mangroves and its symbiotic relationship to fisheries is an issue easily overlooked by development planners when the central focus is placed on employment and money generating activities. The issues of exploitation and sustainable use of natural resources for economic development in small island communities remains as pertinent as ever.