Valuable Seas

Fishermen untangling a net with birds in the background

Developing ways to incorporate economic, social, environmental, spiritual and cultural marine values in decision-making, and identifying innovative ways to add value to the marine economy


We are identifying frameworks and principles that recognise the multiple values people hold for the marine environment, so that different perspectives can be included in ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach that is central to Sustainable Seas.

We are exploring ways to assess the non-monetary values of coastal and marine ecosystem services, to develop more comprehensive and culturally-appropriate ecosystem accounting and EBM efforts in Aotearoa.

We are linking the social and cultural values that people associate with coastal and marine areas to specific ecosystem services (for example, removing pollutants) that underpin and support these values.

We are studying initiatives to create economic value from sustainable marine activities based on resilient ecosystems. We will use the findings to map and model a blue economy, and support policy, decision-making and investment that stimulates resourcefulness, strengthens regional economies, encourages EBM, and underpins sustainable use of our seas

With coastal waters becoming more acidic, this project is testing two techniques to alleviate local acidification around mussel farms. The results from these trials will then be used in hydrodynamic models to predict their effects on pH in the top of the South Island and the Firth of Thames.

We are investigating the environmental, social, and economic implications of decommissioning offshore structures (such as oil platforms). We will specifically look at the impact on Taranaki’s marine ecosystem if end-of-use structures either remain in place or are removed, and explore any associated economic opportunities for the local community.  

Tasman and Golden Bays are periodically closed to the public because of bacterial contamination from local river discharge. This project is creating the first near real-time forecasting tool for the region, which will improve the prediction of when aquaculture sites and beaches are safe to access.

The phrase ‘huataukīna tō iwi e’ comes from the waiata ‘Hikurangi’ composed by Kuini Moeau Reedy, based on an old Ngāti Porou phrase that means: when the kaimoana is abundant and the hapū have strings of kīna, whānau are prosperous and healthy. This project aims to create commercial opportunities by developing high-value nutraceutical and functional food ingredient products from kīna (Evechinus chloroticus) from the coastal marine areas of East Coast hapū.

HABs are natural phenomena that significantly effect many ecosystem services and values, such as shellfish and fin-fish aquaculture as well as recreational and customary kaimoana harvesting. This project will trial two new, complementary technologies for detecting an monitoring harmful planltonic micro-algae, with the aim of improving the effectiveness and lowering the cost of current monitoring methods.

New Zealand has large untapped sources of renewable ocean energy. Tidal currents are a highly predicable renewable energy source, and Raukawa Moana/Cook Strait is arguably the best site in the world for generating power from tidal currents. This project is developing the tools and methods needed to estimate the scale of investment required for wide-ranging scenarios of tidal farm sizes and locations.

Making a new blue economy in Kaikoura: a participatory process approach

Following the November 2016 earthquakes, Kaikōura’s economy is having to be redeveloped in the midst of huge disruption to marine ecology and everyday social and economic life. This project aims to work with Kaikōura’s communities and businesses to develop a practical, long-term strategy for building a sustainable blue economy, which makes the most of new opportunities to balance social, economic and environmental aspirations - and that complements other efforts to rebuild the region’s economy. This work will provide Sustainable Seas with crucial insights into how to best build blue economies and improve participatory processes for guiding investment and environmental management.

Latest news and updates

Job opportunity: Senior Communications Advisor (1.0 FTE)

We're looking for a great all-rounder who's interested in using their exceptional science communications and outreach skills to help tackle a critical environmental science challenge facing the nation.

Job opportunity: Challenge Manager (0.5 FTE)

Looking for an exciting opportunity to apply your scientific background and management abilities to a critical environmental science challenge facing the nation?

Video: How current legislative frameworks in NZ enable EBM

Lara Taylor and Tania Te Whenua gave this presentation at the NZ Coastal Society conference.  This research is part of the 'Ecosystem-based management (EBM) within NZ's existing legislative framework' project, which is developing a better understanding of the opportunities and constraints offered by current legislation and decision-making processes.