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

Eureka! Is ocean farming the future?

Jonathan Chan, from Auckland Grammar School, has won the Eureka Award Gold Scholarship sponsored by NIWA for the most innovative and creative science, technology and/or engineering solution that addresses issues at the core of the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge.

Cumulative effects project kicks off

Managing the cumulative effects from natural events and human activities is one of the most urgent and complex problems facing our coastal and marine ecosystems. The many agencies responsible for managing these spaces are working together to address this challenge.