One year after volcanic blast, many of Tonga's reefs lie silent

One year on from the massive eruption of an underwater volcano in the South Pacific, the island nation of Tonga is still dealing with the damage to its coastal waters.

When Hunga-Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai went off, it sent a shockwave around the world, produced a plume of water and ash that soared higher into the atmosphere than any other on record, and triggered tsunami waves that ricocheted across the region - slamming into the archipelago which lies southeast of Fiji.

Coral reefs were turned to rubble and many fish perished or migrated away.

The disaster worsened conditions for Tongans, more than 80% of whom were already relying on subsistence reef fishing, according to 2019 World Bank data. Following the eruption, the Tongan government said it would seek $240 million for recovery, including improving food security. In the immediate aftermath, the World Bank provided $8 million.

"In terms of recovery plan ... we are awaiting for funds to cover expenditure associated with small-scale fisheries along coastal communities," said Poasi Ngaluafe, head of the science division of Tonga's Ministry of Fisheries.