Managed Seas

A marine chart of New Zealand and surrounding water

Using the knowledge generated by the Challenge to develop innovative and effective tools that support decision-makers and enable ecosystem-based management (EBM)


We are developing simulation models for the Tasman and Golden Bays area to test what is likely to happen to marine ecosystems under different scenarios. This enables managers, Māori and other stakeholders to explore ‘What if?’ questions, and consider the implications of potential management decisions.

We are developing a decision support tool that enables Māori and stakeholders to interact with the scientific findings of the Atlantis ecosystem model – a system that mimics how groups of marine organisms interact with each other, their physical environment and humans.

The aim of this project is to develop a framework that helps us decide how to best share marine space. We are using spatial data (data with geographical coordinates) to model trade-offs between different resource uses, objectives, and Māori and stakeholder values, and their impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem health

Our waters support the greatest diversity of seabirds on Earth, but defining where birds are and in what numbers can be extremely expensive. We are investigating whether relative environmental suitability (RES) models could produce sufficiently accurate estimates of seasonal seabird distributions, at a much lower cost than boat-based observations.

Novel risk assessment tools for ecosystem-based management

This project will review new methods to inform risk management for novel marine activities, cumulative threats from multiple stressors, and tipping points. In particular, we want to enable stakeholders to participate in developing plausible threat scenarios and risk models, to support decision-making.

Latest news and updates

Smart aquaculture

A new aquaculture project from the Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) National Science Challenge to develop technologies for sustainable, more productive, marine farming aligns well with our mission. It is led by Dr Chris Cornelisen, who also leads our Managed Seas research theme.

Art + Oceans 2018

We are co-funding the latest collaborative Art + Science project run by the Dunedin School of Art and University of Otago. 2018’s theme is Art + Oceans. Artists will work with scientists from the University of Otago to develop artworks relating to ocean science interpreted in a broad context.

New term, new NZ marine science resources

School pupils can now explore a real-world issue facing New Zealand – how to best manage our vast marine resources – thanks to a collaboration between the Sustainable Seas Challenge and Science Learning Hub.