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.

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.

Article in Seafood NZ magazine

The latest issue has a feature about our research, what it means for fishing and aquaculture, the diverse stakeholders involved, and what the Challenge is trying to achieve.