The key legislations on aquaculture in Tonga are the Aquaculture Management Act (2003), its amendment (2005) and the Aquaculture Management Regulations (2008) made under the Act. The main purpose of the Act is to provide for the management and development of aquaculture in the Kingdom and other matters incidental thereof.
The Act states that an aquaculture Management and Development Plan shall be prepared and kept under regular review by the Minister for Fisheries who shall publish it in the Gazette .
In that respect, an aquaculture commodity plan for 2010-2014 has been issued .
The Management and Development Plan states that aquaculture should be based on six objectives :
The Minister shall be responsible for the control, management and development of aquaculture and any related activity, whether on land or in any aquatic area including marine areas.
The Act requires that there be an Aquaculture Advisory Committee to advise the Minister on matters related to aquaculture, such as policy, planning, management and development. The Committee advises the Minister in relation to: [...]
(b) policy, planning and guidelines for the regulation, management and development of aquaculture;[...]
(d) the approval of plans for collaboration on aquaculture management with other foreign or local institutions;[...]
(f) appropriate public awareness programmes on the need for proper management and development of aquaculture;
(g) the establishment of aquaculture areas and buffer zones;
(h) any matter relating to aquaculture which the Minister refers to the Advisory Committee for investigation, deliberation and advice.
The Committee is a government and private sector initiative and shall comprise the following members:
Furthermore, in order to ensure the enforcement of the Act, aquaculture officers are designated by the Ministry of Fisheries .
Finally, the Act provides for regulations to be made by the Minister, with the consent of Cabinet, as necessary for the proper and efficient administration of the Act . In that respect, aquaculture regulations were passed in 2008. They provide mechanisms required for certification of aquaculture products by an aquaculture officer . The Aquaculture Management Regulations also provide “Forms and Schedules” for applications for licenses or their renewal, and outline information related to production required by license owners, and the fees associated with applications and permits.
The term “fish” is defined as “any fish and includes any aquatic animal or plant, mollusc, crustacean, coral (living or dead) and other coelenterates, sponge, holothurian (bêche-de-mer) or other echinoderm, and turtle, and their young and eggs” .
At a national level, the Aquaculture Management Act makes provision for the Minister who may, in consultation with the Aquaculture Advisory Committee, issue and publish codes of practice .
However, at the time of the publication of the present work, there has not been any regulation passed in that respect as per information found on the Tongan Department of Fisheries website.
Tonga is not a member of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and not a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) .
However, the aquaculture commodity plan for 2010-2014 expresses the will of more commitment to move forward with involvement in OIE and CITES and other trade regulatory organizations .
(a) by persons who hold an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation issued in accordance with this Act;
(b) within aquaculture areas; and
(c) in accordance with this Act and any regulations or orders made under this Act.
Applications for an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation shall be made to the Minister for Fisheries in the prescribed form and accompanied with the prescribed fee as specified in the Aquaculture Management Regulations.
License applications are to be classified into three categories. “Category A” classification includes proposals that involve little risk to the environment, and minimal risk of adverse social or economic impacts to communities in the immediate vicinity of the proposed aquaculture operation. This category is designed to cover largely self-contained operations. “Category B” classification includes proposals that involve some impact on the social or economic welfare of adjacent communities, and may have some environmentally adverse consequences. The risks for the operation to cause long-term environmental perturbation should be low. “Category C” classification involves proposals that involve some impact on the social or economic welfare of adjacent or regional communities, and/or may have some environmentally adverse consequences. The risks for the operation to cause long-term environmental perturbation may be uncertain or moderate .
All applications for an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation shall be assessed by the Minister who may submit the application to the Aquaculture Advisory Committee for review with an assessment report of the application .
The Minister shall decide whether to grant or refuse an application for an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation within three (3) months of submission of the application .
In determining the application for an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation, the Minister shall consider:
(a) whether the site for which the licence or authorisation is applied is located in an aquaculture area;
(b) the impact of aquaculture on the general environment;
(c) the impact on communities, if any, located in the vicinity of the aquaculture area in respect of which an aquaculture development licence or authorisation is to be issued and the fishing practices of these communities;
(d) the effect of proposed aquaculture development on fish species located in the area;
(e) any relevant fishery or aquaculture management and development plan [...] .
For instance, the Minister shall refuse to issue an aquaculture development licence or authorisation under the Aquaculture Management Act if:
(a) the site where the applicant proposes to undertake aquaculture or a related activity is not available under the law relating to land matters or under this Act or is not suitable for that purpose having regard to other laws, the local environment, the character of the general area and other activities being undertaken in the area;
(b) the application was not made in accordance with this Act or any information furnished or any representation made in the application is false in a material respect;
(c) the applicant is an individual disqualified from holding an aquaculture development licence or other authorization [since his aquaculture licence has been cancelled];
(e) the issuance of an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation under this Act is not consistent with the relevant aquaculture management and development plan [...] .
An aquaculture development licence may be renewed. An application for a renewal of an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation under this Act shall be made to the Minister for Fisheries in accordance with such requirements as the Minister considers appropriate or as may be prescribed by regulations . All applications for renewal of an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation shall be received and assessed by the Minister who may submit the application to the Aquaculture advisory Committee for review with an assessment report of the application .
The Act provides a system for resolving grievances. Before refusing to issue or renew an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation, the Minister shall advise the applicant in writing of the reasons why he intends to refuse the application and shall give the applicant an opportunity to appeal the decision, amend the application, and to make written or oral representations within thirty (30) days from the date of the written advice given by the Minister .
Regarding the duration, an aquaculture development licence shall be valid for the period stated in the licence which shall not exceed ten (10) years.
Moreover, it shall not be used for any purpose other than those purposes specified in the licence.
The aquaculture development licence shall be subject to :
On the other hand, the holder of an aquaculture development licence or authorisation under this Act shall by written notice inform the Minister of any material changes made to the aquaculture premises, including any changes to the information which such licence or authorisation may contain .
A register of aquaculture development licences shall be kept by the Secretary for Fisheries .
The Secretary may require the holder of an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation at any time to provide an aquaculture officer or the Secretary with any information concerning aquaculture and any related activity undertaken by the holder .
Concerning the cessation of activity, a holder of an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation who intends to cease the aquaculture or related activity authorised under his aquaculture development licence or authorisation shall inform the Secretary at least thirty (30) days prior to ceasing the aquaculture or related activity .
The Secretary may require by written notice the holder of an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation who has ceased aquaculture or related activity or a person whose aquaculture development licence or other authorisation has been cancelled, to remove any aquaculture premises or installation, building or equipment and to restore the site to the standard and within the period specified in the notice .
Authorisation of land-based aquaculture requires that the proponent demonstrates that the applicant has a valid lease of the land under consideration, and that the Minister of Lands and Cabinet has approved the availability and use of that land for aquaculture. Under the Aquaculture Management Act, the Minister for Fisheries has the power to give leases (in the form of permits to occupy) for aquaculture areas in a manner equivalent and parallel to that allowed for terrestrial areas under the provisions of the Land Act.
Upon receiving an application under sections 90 or 91 of the Land Act, respectively dealing with leases to Tongans other than allotment holders and leases to occupiers of land in excess of statutory area, the Minister [of Lands] shall furnish the Director of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries with the name of the applicant, the particulars of the land-held--by and of the land proposed to be leased by the applicant and shall request the Director to inspect the land and report :
(a) upon the state of cultivation of the land proposed to be leased, or
(b) upon the state of cultivation of the statutory allotment or both
as the Minister may require.
So to apply for a licence or its renewal, under the Aquaculture Management Act (2003), any proposal to undertake aquaculture on land shall be accompanied by a copy of the applicant's lease of the said land or a statement from the Ministry of Lands confirming the availability of the land for aquaculture .
The Minister for Fisheries shall refuse to issue an aquaculture development licence or authorisation if the site where the applicant proposes to undertake aquaculture or a related activity is not available under the law relating to land matters .
Concerning access to water, in each village, there is a Village Committee that provides all assistance possible to help in the provisions of water and sanitation in the village, as mentioned in the Water Supply Regulations (1963, consolidated in 2005) and as consolidated. The Village Committee shall elect among their members or from residents of the village a Water Superintendent who shall have charge of the custody and administration of the Waterworks and of the water therein and the management of the supply and the distribution of the water subject to the direction of the Village Committee . If water supplied from the waterworks through the service to the premises is being wilfully or negligently wasted, the Water Superintendent may disconnect from the waterworks the service to any premises without prejudice to any water charges, meter rent or other sums due or to become due . Moreover, a specific section is dedicated to waste water : indeed, a person who, for instance, wilfully and without consent of the Committee negligently interferes with valves or other apparatus of the waterworks or uses water for any purpose other than that for which the water is supplied to him shall be guilty of an offence.
The Water Village Committee works in partnership with the Ministry of Health as specified in both the Water Supply Regulations and the Public Health Act (1992, consolidated in 2005). In that respect, the Director of Health may inspect at any time all records and works of the Village Committee in the interests of public health and the Minister for Health shall advise the Village Water Committee on all measures required to ensure that the water used in its area is safe for drinking and remains so. The Minister may charge for any service he provides to maintain the quality and sufficiency of water supplies .
In 2000, the Tonga Water Board is established under the Tonga Water Board Act. The functions of the Board are :
On the other hand, the owner or occupier of any land which is incapable of being supplied by water from any water supply works operated by the Board may apply to the Board in writing for the extension of existing works in order to serve that land .
An authorized person may enter land without giving notice to the owner or occupier for the purpose of, for instance, preventing the waste, misuse or pollution of any water; or dealing with an emergency .
All major projects shall be supported by an appropriate environmental impact assessment, conducted as required under this Act . By referring to the schedule contained in the Act, “farms for the propagation of marine, estuarine or freshwater organisms” are considered as a major project . So aquaculture is a project requiring fist an EIA before being launched. Moreover, the Aquaculture Management Act (2003) states that “every application made under [the section “Application for licence or authorization”] shall be submitted to the Minister [for Fisheries] together with an environment impact assessment report, and the recommendations of the person or authority responsible for reviewing the environmental impact assessment report” .
It is the Environmental Assessment Committee established under the Environmental Impact Assessment Act that shall review and recommend to the determining authority (responsible for issuing a licence or approval before any development activity proceeds), environmental conditions to be attached to major projects and the means by which they should be implemented. The Committee receives all relevant documentation relating to the application submitted for major projects required to undertake project assessment; ensures that appropriate inter-departmental coordination is made for all major projects submitted to the Committee .
In general, holders of an aquaculture development licence or other authorisation shall take all reasonably practical measures to avoid or minimise pollution and any harmful environmental impact caused by aquaculture or related activity, including the discharge of effluent and the disposal of sludge; “effluent” meaning any liquid waste produced by aquaculture or related activity including emulsions, solids in suspension and unwanted water which has been used for aquaculture or related activity; and “sludge” meaning any solid or semi-solid, organic waste from aquaculture or related activity, whether or not it also contains non-organic substances.
The aquaculture activity shall be suspended if the Minister for Fisheries has reason to believe that the holder of an aquaculture development licence has contravened this obligation. The suspension lasts until the Minister is satisfied that the holder of the licence is complying with this obligation .
The specificity of the Aquaculture Management Act is that the Minister for Fisheries, may, by notice in writing if he has reason to believe that any activity at any aquaculture premises may have a detrimental impact on the environment, so once the activity has started, require the holder of a licence or other authorisation issued under the Aquaculture Management Act to commission an assessment of the environmental impact of the existing aquaculture or related activities by an appropriately qualified independent person; and submit a report of the assessment to the Minister within the period specified in the notice and in accordance with the prescribed guidelines .
On top of that, under the Health Services Act (1991, consolidated in 2005), the Minister of Health is empowered to provide pathology including laboratory, and pharmaceutical facilities including facilities for the laboratory study of water .
The Waste Management Act puts in place a Waste Management Authority. The functions of the Authority shall be to establish, improve, maintain, operate and manage the collection and disposal of all waste including :
(a) the provision of commercial, industrial and residential waste collection services;
(b) the provision of waste management facilities, including the identification, development and management of waste dump site areas; [...]
(d) the provision of appropriate waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities; [...]
(f) the promotion of recycling and the implementation of measures to minimise wastes having particular adverse implications for human health and the environment.
In that context, “waste” includes :
Other waste related offences could be when a person deposits or dumps wastes at a place other than an approved waste dump site; or; drops or throws or deposits any waste on a roadway, vacant land or foreshore, or into any stream, creek, pool, well, lake or the sea .
More specifically, under the Birds and Fish Preservation Act (1903, consolidated in 1988) and as amended, no person may, within a protected area as specified in the schedules of the Act, discharge or cause to be discharged into the protected area any effluent or noxious or toxic liquid or substance, without the prior consent of the Prime Minister .
Furthermore, as a rule stated in the Aquaculture Management Act, no person shall import or introduce into the country, or the marine area, a live fish without the written authorisation of the Minister for Fisheries . Any animal that has been unlawfully introduced or imported into the country may be seized by an inspector appointed under the Animal Diseases Act who shall destroy or otherwise deal with the animal .
Regarding the fish movement in the country, from one point to another, no person shall release or cause the release of any aquaculture product from any aquaculture premises into the waters of Tonga without the written authorisation of the Minister for Fisheries .
Concerning exotic fish, defined as species of fish that is not native to Tonga and includes a genetically modified organism , no person shall introduce or import, possess, culture, sell or export any exotic fish without the written authorisation of the Secretary for Fisheries .
Concerning genetically modified fish, no person shall import, possess, sell or culture any genetically modified fish or use any genetically modified fish in aquaculture or related activity without the written authorisation of the Secretary .
As a general rule, the Minister for Fisheries may require the holder of a licence or authorisation at any time to provide an aquaculture officer or the Minister with any information concerning movement of any aquaculture products in the country .
Moreover, if the Director of Agriculture and Forestry is satisfied that any animal is diseased or infected with a disease or has during the previous three months been diseased he may cause steps to be taken:
(a) to control or eradicate the disease; or
(b) to secure the destruction of the animal under the supervision of an Inspector.
It is important to notice that the owner of any diseased animal or animals suspected of being diseased or the occupier of any land on which there is a diseased animal shall do whatsoever that is directed by an Inspector to be necessary to control or eradicate any disease, or prevent the spread of any disease to or from any place whatsoever .
Concerning the Quarantine Act (1988), it specifically deals with quarantine. Indeed, every vessel on board which any quarantinable disease or disease which there is reason to believe or suspect to be a quarantinable disease has broken out or been discovered shall be subject to quarantine .
The master of a vessel subject to quarantine shall not quit or knowingly or negligently suffer any person to quit his vessel or knowingly or negligently permit any goods to be removed from his vessel.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister may by proclamation in the Gazette :
(a) declare any ports in Tonga to be first ports of entry for oversea vessels; [...]
(c) appoint places on land or sea to be quarantine stations for the performance of quarantine by vessels, persons or goods;
(d) prohibit the introduction into Tonga of any noxious insect or any pest or any disease germs or microbe or any disease agent or any culture virus or substance or article containing or likely to contain any noxious insect, pest, disease, germ, microbe or disease agent [...].
The master of an oversea vessel bound for any port in Tonga shall bring from its oversea port of departure and from every oversea port of call on the voyage and on being required so to do shall deliver to the quarantine officer a bill of health giving such information as may be prescribed in respect of the port and of the sanitary circumstances and condition of the vessel and of her crew and passengers while at the port .
The master, owner or agent of any Tongan vessel or of any vessel going from one port or place in Tonga to another port or place in Tonga shall when required by a quarantine officer by order in writing so to do cause his vessel to be cleansed, disinfected, fumigated or submitted to any specified process for the destruction of disease agents in the presence and to the satisfaction of an officer .
As a general provision, the Act states that no person shall except with the written consent of the Director of Health knowingly import into Tonga any noxious insect, any pest or any disease, germ or microbe or any disease agent or any culture virus or substance containing any disease, germ or microbe or disease agent. Any person guilty of a breach shall be liable on conviction to a fine .
Lastly, seizure may also be a means to fight against diseases. The Aquaculture Management Act states that the Secretary for Fisheries may by written notice to a holder of an aquaculture development licence order such person to comply with instructions stated in the notice if the Secretary has reason to believe that the order of seizure is desirable in order to reduce the risk of disease spreading among fish .
The Director of Agriculture and Forestry is the Registar of Pesticides. He shall register pesticides and keep a Registar of Pesticides in which shall be entered the trade name of all registered pesticides .
In order to manufacture, import, distribute or sale any pesticide, the interested person first needs a pesticide licence issued under the Act by the Registar ; and in order to buy, obtain or use any pesticide, the interested person needs a permit .
The Pesticides Act establishes the Pesticides Registration Committee whose function is to advise the Registrar on the issue, cancellation, renewal, suspension or revocation of any registration, licence or permit granted under the Act; determine the conditions of use of any pesticide and recommend such conditions to the Registrar; promote the efficient, safe use, storage and disposal of pesticides .
Furthermore, pesticide inspectors are designated by the Act. They may, without a warrant, enter any premises or land, other than premises used exclusively as a dwelling house, in which he has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been or is being committed or that pesticides possessed in contravention of any provision of this Act or regulations are being stored; inspect, examine and take samples of any pesticide, substance or label; seize any pesticide which he has reasonable grounds to believe has been used or is possessed or controlled in contravention of the Act .
Regarding more precisely aquaculture, any person intending to use any chemical, piscicide, pharmaceutical, bioremediation product, or its derivative, for aquaculture shall inform the Secretary for Fisheries in advance and shall provide any information as the Secretary may require.
The Secretary may by written notice to an aquaculture licence holder, restrict or prohibit the use of any substance referred to in the above mentioned paragraph, on any aquaculture premises or for the purposes of aquaculture.
The Secretary or aquaculture officer may take samples of fish or aquaculture products from time to time to measure the residue levels of any chemical, piscicide, pharmaceutical, bio-remediation product or their derivatives .
However, at the time of the publication of the present work, there has not been any regulation passed in that respect as per information found on the Tongan Department of Fisheries website.
The Minister of Labour, Commerce and Industries may by notice in the Gazette appoint investigators. An investigator may enter any place that he believes on reasonable grounds to be a place where goods are manufactured, prepared or supplied; inspect any goods; take a sample of anything from which goods are manufactured .
What is of major importance is that the Minister may prescribe approved standards for any goods. Approved standards for goods may include requirements as to :
(a) performance, composition, contents, manufacture, processing, design, construction, finish or packaging of the goods;
(b)the testing of goods during, or after the completion of, manufacture or processing;
(c) the form and content of markings, labels, warnings or instructions to accompany the goods;
(e)minimum quality or grade; (f)measures that manufacturers or traders should take to ensure safe and proper handling or storage [...].
The law prohibits any person to manufacture, supply or trade goods in relation to which there is an approved standard, unless the goods comply with the standard .
Then, under the Agricultural Commodities Export Act (2002, consolidated in 2005), the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry may, by notice published in the Gazette, declare that any agricultural commodity shall not be exported unless it has been examined and approved by an Inspector under the Act , an “agricultural commodity” meaning “all species of fruit, vegetables, root, crops, spices and other plant materials” .
An inspector shall certify any consignment of agricultural commodities which he is satisfied meets the requirements of any regulations made under the Act and which complies with the grade or quality standards of the importing country. He may prohibit the export of agricultural commodities which have not been packed for export in accordance with regulations made under the Act or which do not comply with the grade or quality standards of the importing country . Any person who exports any prescribed agricultural commodity which has not been examined and approved by an inspector commits an offence .
Lastly, the Market Regulations (1971, consolidated in 2005) sets up a Market Authority which may require any goods intended for sale in a market to be inspected during such times and at such places and by such person or persons as the market authority may determine, and no person may sell or offer for sale in a market any goods found after such inspection to be bad, obnoxious, dirty, decayed, unwholesome, dangerous or in poor condition .
In case of emergency defined as “an event, actual or imminent, which endangers or threatens to endanger life, property or the environment and which requires a significant and coordinated response”, the Emergency Management Act (2007) establishes several committees at different level (national, district and village committees) that shall develop effective emergency management plan at their respective level and consider disaster risk reduction.