Enabling ecosystem-based management

Hurunui hāpua a river mouth lagoon on the Canterbury Coast. © Jo Hoyle

Our aim is to improve decision-making in the marine environment and the health of our marine ecosystems through an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach.

Programme leader: Janet Stephenson, University of Otago

This programme is: 

  • investigating whether Aotearoa New Zealand’s laws and governance arrangements for the marine environment are consistent with EBM 
  • reviewing current EBM-like arrangements for managing the marine environment  
  • working with communities to explore how the tools and techniques we develop can underpin initiatives for improving marine ecosystem health 
  • producing narratives about EBM that describe what it means in practice and how it will affect the lives of New Zealanders.   

Aotearoa New Zealand has a complex set of laws and governance arrangements for the marine environment with different purposes and mandates. We are researching how EBM might be implemented under current legislation, and what changes might be needed to implement EBM in the future. We are also learning from the experience of communities, iwi, businesses, NGOs, and local authorities that have worked together to establish innovative marine management regimes.  

Across the Challenge, we are developing tools and approaches to incorporate Māori and stakeholder values, and ecological modelling in marine management. We are exploring how bringing these approaches together can improve decision-making and support the implementation of EBM. Our research findings are being trialled in the Tasman and Golden Bays case study area.  

We are:

  • Improving public and stakeholder understanding of EBM. 
  • Investigating whether changes will be needed to current regulatory frameworks governing marine resources to support EBM. 
  • Demonstrating how tools developed by our research projects can help improve marine ecosystem health. 
  • Empowering interested parties to move towards implementing EBM.  


Ecosystem-based management within Aotearoa New Zealand’s existing legislative framework 

We are investigating how well ecosystem-based management (EBM) aligns with Aotearoa New Zealand’s legislation, policy and governance relating to the marine environment. 

EBM-enabling narratives for New Zealand 

We want to show what ecosystem-based management (EBM) of marine environments in Aotearoa New Zealand looks like now and how it could look in the future. 

What could ecosystem-based management look like in Tasman and Golden Bays?

We are investigating how to successfully put ecosystem-based management (EBM) into practice in Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine environment. 


Latest news and updates

Decision-making in the face of uncertainty

The Tipping points team proposes harnessing expert opinions from scientists and mātauranga Māori holders to bridge key knowledge gaps so marine managers can plan for different outcomes and prevent tipping points.

Job opportunity: Synthesis Scientist

We're looking for a dynamic researcher who is keen to help turn research into action. You'll be able to transcend disciplines, and capable of weaving together multiple strands of knowledge generated from across the Sustainable Seas Challenge into user-focused outputs that enable marine managers to implement ecosystem-based management.


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