Does NZ legislation enable EBM?

Beach. Credit: Dave Allen, NIWA

Marine law and policies will need  to be updated to fully embrace ecosystem-based management (EBM) principles say researchers from the EBM within Aotearoa New Zealand’s legal framework project.

Seven key principles for EBM in New Zealand have been proposed by the Sustainable Seas Challenge, developed with feedback and information from Māori and stakeholders.

The extent to which these EBM principles are aligned with and enabled by current legislation was discussed in a recent webinar by Raewyn Peart (Environmental Defence Society), Dr Alison Greenaway and Lara Taylor (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research).

While the team found some aspects of marine management legislation are in line with the EBM principles, the framework overall is complex and fragmented. At least 20 pieces of legislation apply to the marine environment, and many different central and regional government agencies are responsible for administering them.

This stems from legislation being developed for different purposes (eg marine mammal protection, conservation, regulation of fisheries) or to protect specific areas (eg specific legislation for the Hauraki Gulf and Fiordland).

Additionally, there is no consistent management approach across all types of marine legislation. This means that New Zealand’s marine environment is not managed holistically.

The researchers found that while treaty settlements and marine spatial plans do incorporate policies enabling some aspects of EBM, they need to be built upon and extended nationwide.

“With increasing pressures on marine environments and resources it is important to rationalise, modernise and strengthen marine policy,” said Raewyn Peart.

The results will be published as a policy brief and journal article in early 2020. In the meantime, the team is developing a technical summary and will present a second webinar (date tbc) for lawyers and people familiar with the legal framework who are interested in more detail.

This research is timely as the Government is reviewing its resource management processes in late 2019 and the team are eager to contribute to this process.