Managed Seas

A marine chart of New Zealand and surrounding water

Using the knowledge generated by the Challenge to develop innovative and effective tools that support decision-makers and enable ecosystem-based management (EBM)

Programme leader: Chris Cornelisen, Cawthron Institute

This programme is the Challenge’s ‘tool box’ – we are developing, validating and comparing tools and frameworks that will support EBM by helping decision makers and other interested groups understand the effects of management decisions and/or future environmental conditions. These tools are critical for testing EBM.

Our work includes developing:

  • Ecosystem models to enable decision-makers to weigh up ‘what if?’ scenarios
  • Tools that use spatial data to explore trade-offs between different resource uses and predict their effects on biodiversity and ecosystem health
  • Techniques for understanding the risks associated with novel marine activities, the cumulative effects of multiple stressors, and uncertain changes in the ecosystem
  • Internet-based applications to enable Māori and stakeholders to participate and engage with the tools and knowledge that the Challenge is generating

Working with the other research programmes is essential to successfully develop and implement these tools. It’s equally important that regulators and managers in government, Māori, community and stakeholder organisations, institutions, and industry choose to be involved – and that we provide opportunities for them to be involved – to ensure outputs are practical and fit for purpose.


Ecosystem models

What happens in Tasman and Golden Bays if…?

We are developing simulation models for the Tasman and Golden Bays area to test what is likely to happen to marine ecosystems under different scenarios. This enables managers, Māori and other stakeholders to explore ‘What if?’ questions, and consider the implications of potential management decisions.

Spatially-explicit decision support tools

Helping decide how to best share marine space

The aim of this project is to develop a framework that helps us decide how to best share marine space. We are using spatial data (data with geographical coordinates) to model trade-offs between different resource uses, objectives, and Māori and stakeholder values, and their impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem health

Novel risk assessment tools for ecosystem-based management

Better risk assessment

This project will review new methods to inform risk management for novel marine activities, cumulative threats from multiple stressors, and tipping points. In particular, we want to enable stakeholders to participate in developing plausible threat scenarios and risk models, to support decision-making.

Interactive tools for enabling participation and knowledge exchange

Participatory tools: 'there’s an app for that'

This research is at the boundary of science and society, developing internetbased applications that will enable Māori, stakeholders and the wider public to participate, interact with and use the tools and knowledge that we generate.

Can we define marine habitat use by seabirds without costly at-sea observational data? (innovation fund)

Can we predict which seabirds are where?

Our waters support the greatest diversity of seabirds on Earth, but defining where birds are and in what numbers can be extremely expensive. We are investigating whether relative environmental suitability (RES) models could produce sufficiently accurate estimates of seasonal seabird distributions, at a much lower cost than boat-based observations.

Latest news and updates

Consultation opens re 2019–2024 strategy

Improving marine management is critical to New Zealand's future health and wealth, but research in isolation is not enough. Excellent engagement with, and participation from, all users and sectors of society is essential.

We therefore invite comment on our draft strategy for Phase II (2019–2024). This strategy has been co-developed with Māori and stakeholders.

Video: How current legislative frameworks in NZ enable EBM

Lara Taylor and Tania Te Whenua gave this presentation at the NZ Coastal Society conference.  This research is part of the 'Ecosystem-based management (EBM) within NZ's existing legislative framework' project, which is developing a better understanding of the opportunities and constraints offered by current legislation and decision-making processes.

Smart aquaculture

A new aquaculture project from the Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) National Science Challenge to develop technologies for sustainable, more productive, marine farming aligns well with our mission. It is led by Dr Chris Cornelisen, who also leads our Managed Seas research theme.