Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 195–207 | Cite as

Assessing Marine Resource Exploitation in Lofanga, Tonga: One Case Study—Two Approaches

  • Mecki KronenEmail author
  • Andrea Bender


This paper is an attempt to combine the results and conclusions of two independently designed research projects, in order to achieve a more complete understanding of the degree of exploitation of living marine resources by a small Tongan coastal fishing community. Results of a socioeconomic resource-driven survey and an anthropological study adopting a commons dilemma approach, agree substantially on the impact of tradition and changes, but disagree with regard to the driving forces. The socioeconomic study argues that dynamics between traditional and modern economic values best explain the state of the community’s coastal fisheries; while the anthropological study argues that social values and obligations still determine to a great extent the goals people pursue with their economic activities. Current fishing pressure, the marine tenure system, and present and future marketing potentials are all factors which may result in conflict between the traditional Tongan system and the modern cash-based, remittance sustained system. These will ultimately affect the current and future status of coastal resources and the social cohesion of the community.

Key words

Marine resources Tonga fishing pressure commons sharing cultural institutions socioeconomics anthropology 



This paper would not have been possible without the help and input of numerous people. The author of the socioeconomic study wants to express her sincere thanks to the Tongan Ministry of Fisheries for the support provided, in particular Hon. ‘Akau’ola, ‘Ulungamanu Fa’anunu and Tala’ofa Loto’ahea. Special thanks to the socioeconomic team members who helped to collect information on Ha’apai, particularly Jocelyne Ferraris, Guy Fontenelle, Saia Niumeitolu, ‘Ofa Sefana, and Sione Fili. The anthropological study profited greatly from the input of the project partners Andreas M. Ernst, Ernst Mohr, Stefan Seitz, and Hans Spada. The second author also wishes to thank Sieghard Beller, Robin Chakraborty, Mike Evans, ‘Ofa Fakahau, Sione Faka’osi, Sitiveni Halapua, Mick Hortle, Patricia Kailola, ‘Anitimoni Petelo, Randy Thaman, Taiamoni Tongamoa, and Joeli Veitayaki for inspiring discussions, constructive criticisms and helpful remarks. Both authors want to express their gratitude to Pierre Labrosse for his critical comments and assistance provided during the preparation of the manuscript. We are particularly indebted to the people of Lofanga for their kind support and welcome.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Community Fisheries Scientist, Secretariat of the Pacific CommunityReef Fisheries ObservatoryNouméa CedexNew Caledonia
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Cognition–Emotion–CommunicationUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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