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Race for Water vessel in Tonga

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 10/12/2018

The Race for Water vessel is currently in Tonga, one of the stops during its 5-year journey to participate in some major international events with the aim to raise awareness and to educate as many people as possible about the urgent need to conserve the oceans from plastic waste which harms marine life.

HRH Princess Pilolevu Tuita this morning visited aboard the Race for Water Vessel along with Hon. Fatafehi ‘o Lapaha Filipe, and many invited guests, to inspect and tour the world-class vessel.

This morning the captain and the crew held a press conference with the Director of Energy from the Ministry of MEIDECC – Dr. Tevita Tukunga, and Tahirih Hokafonu from the Environment Department, where they highlighted the significance of the visit of this vessel, which is powered by solar and wind power.

This is all in the benefit of conserving the oceans, as there is an increase in the pollution of the oceans with plastic waste and this Race for Water initiative is one of the ways to tackle this.

The captain of the vessel – Jean-Marc Normant elaborated on the important work they do.

“The first cruise that we did we crossed the Atlantic and go to Bermuda. In each stop, we shared our experiences with schools and Scientifics and we showed the different solutions we found about plastic in the ocean so mainly our problem is that today there is a lot of plastic in the ocean and we need to find a solution to get rid of this plastic because it’s difficult to keep the plastic from the ocean back to the shore.”

Meanwhile, Director of Energy from the Ministry of MEIDECC – Dr. Tevita Tukunga talks on the significance of this program for Tonga.

“We have discussed that in the government level and with private sectors but nothing has been done yet because in Tonga, there’s a lot of plastics and it’s very hard to recycle it but if you turn it around as a source of energy, it’s not only good for the environment but we can also make use of the natural resources. So we wanna make use of this opportunity and see how you do this in the boat.”

The head of biodiversity from the Environment Department – Tahirih Hokafonu talked on the challenges Tonga faces in regards to ocean management in relation to pollution.

”One of our challenges in Tonga is converting plastics to energy. Our NGO’s and private sectors who are at the frontier of recycling businesses here in Tonga, still finds this a challenge when mostly our recycling is on metal than it is on plastics. In our efforts with ocean management in relation to marine plastic pollution, there has been various – I wouldn’t say it’s systematic from national down to local levels in the approach to collect plastics but the issue of the collection of all of these plastics is that we do not have a way or means to recycle it to usable energy that we could generate for household livings.”

The Race for Water began their journey last April, departing France on a world expedition which would conclude back in France in July 2021.

© Radio and Television Tonga News