The Challenge

Sea-going vessel with Research written on the side travelling near the coastline

The objective of the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge is to enhance the value of New Zealand's marine resources, while providing a healthy marine environment for future generations.

What New Zealand has

New Zealand’s marine estate is 20 times larger than our land mass, and we have the 4th largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world. New Zealand’s marine resources include fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, oil and gas, minerals, renewable energy, shipping and more. 

The sea is also an important part of the New Zealand lifestyle and culture – for food, recreation and spiritual well being. 75% of New Zealanders live within 10 km of the coast, and Māori connections with the sea are particularly strong. 

There is a growing conflict between New Zealand’s many uses of the marine environment, including its important marine economy and protection of the marine environment. 

What New Zealand could have

There needs to be a new way of managing New Zealand’s marine resources that considers multiple uses, values and sources of knowledge, and combines the needs of Māori, wider communities, and industry, with new evidence from scientific research.

We need a tool that enhances use of marine resources, but ensures that our seas are understood, cared for, and used wisely.

Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) can provide this tool. It recognises interactions within ecosystems and with humans, and balances the use and conservation of resources.

The challenge is to:

  • Engage with New Zealanders to understand the cultural, spiritual, economic and environmental values of our marine environment.
  • Investigate and describe the impacts of natural and human stresses on marine ecosystems.
  • Overcome impediments to enhanced resource use.
  • Uphold commitment towards Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the sharing of information, resources and opportunities, as well as learning, action and shared decision-making. 

Latest news and updates

Video: Why Tasman and Golden Bays?

Tasman Bay/Te Tai-o-Aorere and Golden Bay/Mohua are our ‘case study area’, where we are testing the tools and knowledge for ecosystem-based management (EBM) that we are generating.

Tracking Tasman Bay

Over the next 2 weeks, 14 drifters will monitor how water circulates in Tasman Bay, providing insights into issues such as where river sediment and nutrient plumes end up.

Video: Working together

This video explains what we're about; how we are working with Māori, government, industry, NGOs and communities; and what we mean by ecosystem-based management (EBM).