The Department of Environment Tonga became aware of the issue when the public posted photos of the turtles on Facebook.
Lena Moimoi said her children discovered turtles that were dying and some were dead in the Popua area.
“Incase it has yet to be reported to the Ministry of Fisheries - it seems like some sort of contamination POISONING TURTLES and other sea creatures in the Popua area!”
“My kids discovered several SICK, DYING & DEAD TURTLES in the Popua Area and assumed it was all the RUBBISH which they went on to clean up,” she said on Facebook.
Moimoi also urged the people to be aware of the serious issue.
“Not only is this killing the turtles and fishes but many of us consume the seafood fished in this Area. Whatever this turns out to be, people also need to be Educated on the serious effects of loitering. Also the fact that the Fanga'uta Lagoon has been declared TOXIC is not common knowledge.. People need to be aware - And could this be a cause?.”
Department of Environment Director, Atelaite Lupe Matoto said they went out to have a look at the site this morning and secured some water samples.
“This will be tested to see if the water is toxic. But our team found out also that while fish stocks were in abundance in the identified lake close to the sea, the turtles were having problems.”
“We are trying to determine what it is that is causing the problem. And we also ask people to stop littering in the lake because there is so much plastic waste around the lake.”
Meanwwhile, In 2018, the then Minister for Education Penisimani Fifita told Parliament that Fanga’uta Lagoon had been declared toxic and not worthy to fish in Fanga’uta Lagoon is a marine reserve.
According to the Global Environment Facility, the catchment area of the lagoon is home to more than 40,000 people and includes some of the most important agricultural areas in Tonga, and the last remaining rainforest, Taloa.
“The Fanga’uta Lagoon system, with its sheltered waters, mangroves, seagrass beds and patch reefs, is an important nursery area for both fin and shellfish, supporting fisheries both within the lagoon and in the surrounding sea.”
The “Fanga’uta Stewardship Plan (2017) helps stakeholders and partners better manage Fanga’uta.
Photo Lena Moimoi/Facebook