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 – January 2019 
Budget: $725,000 
Status: Ongoing 

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.

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