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

Guardianship of what’s ours. © Chris Williams, New Zealand Story

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

Project leader: Dr Alison Greenaway, Landcare Research

Duration: April 2016 – December 2018 
Budget: $725,000 
Status: Completed

Our project aims to improve understanding of the opportunities and constraints for EBM under current legislation and in decision-making processes. In Aotearoa New Zealand, there are laws that cover different geographic areas, resources, species and activities in the marine environment, such as the Resource Management Act 1991, Fisheries Act 1996, and Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act. There are also several decision-making bodies with different mandates and responsibilities.  

Our team of law, policy and governance experts has found that current policies and laws are already partially consistent with most of the principles of EBM.  

One of our studies looked at how well the current policy and legislation supports rāhui (customary prohibitions). EBM aligns well with Māori customary management, as both are holistic concepts aiming to care for and sustainably use marine resources. We found that there is limited provision for rāhui to be practised and, even where it is provided for in law or policy, it is disconnected from the tikanga Māori on which it is based. 

We are currently investigating the extent to which EBM is enabled by current legislative and decision-making frameworks, and potential ways to improve this.

Webinar

NZ law and the principles of ecosystem-based management (April 2019) - This webinar gave an overview of the research findings.

Journal articles

Iorns C & Stuart T (2017). Murky Waters: adaptive management, uncertainty and seabed mining in the exclusive economic zone. Policy Quarterly 13(2), 10 DOI: 10.26686/pq.v13i2.4661

Love T (2017). The Kermadecs Conundrum: marine protected areas and democratic processPolicy Quarterly 13(2), 17 DOI: 10.26686/pq.v13i2.4660

Peart R (2017). A ‘sea change’ in marine planning: The development of New Zealand’s first marine spatial planPolicy Quarterly, 13(2), 3-9 DOI: 10.26686/pq.v13i2.4658

Peart R (2017). A seachange: Marine spatial planning in New Zealand. In Kitsiou D & Karydis M (eds), Marine spatial planning: Methodologies, environmental issues and current trends, Nova Science Publishers, New York. 

Severinsen G (2017). Injecting Carbon Beneath the Seabed: dumping, pollution, water ... or something else? Policy Quarterly 13 (2), 29 DOI: 10.26686/pq.v13i2.4654

Watkins M (2017) Under New Management marine consents in the exclusive economic zonePolicy Quarterly 13(2), 23 DOI: 10.26686/pq.v13i2.4650

Latest news and updates

Where's our research happening?

We’ve developed an interactive map that shows the locations and key information of all our research projects. The aim is to help connect people with the research happening in their community.

Media statement: Today's marine environment report from MfE and StatsNZ

Julie Hall, Director: "It is deeply concerning that the state of our marine environment has not improved in the last three years. Resilient coasts and oceans are essential to New Zealanders' health and wealth, so urgent action is needed to address the decline. There is a growing need for ecosystem-based management (EBM) to holistically manage risk and sustain Aotearoa's coasts and oceans. This is even more important given the ongoing impacts of climate change."

Job opportunity: Communications advisor

Do you have science communication skills and at least 2 years experience? Do you care about Aotearoa's oceans and how people use/value our seas? Then we've got a job for you.