Navigating marine social-ecological systems

Mother holds child on beach, ship in background

Our aim is to identify and/or improve our understanding of institutional, social and cultural factors that need to be incorporated into ecosystem-based management for it to be successfully used to manage Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine resources.

Project leader: Karen Fisher, University of Auckland

Duration: April 2016 – September 2019 
Budget: $920,000 
Status: Ongoing 

Our research is using social science to examine key issues in the marine environment. We are engaging with Māori, industry representatives, resource managers, decision makers, environmental organisations and communities.  

We are considering how knowledge about cumulative effects – environmental effects resulting from multiple activities over time – can improve decision-making for the marine environment. In 2016, we hosted a workshop with 40 scientists and senior policymakers from across New Zealand. It supported cross-institutional and cross-cultural dialogue to address issues raised by cumulative effects. 

We are using sci-art and creative works to engage New Zealanders about EBM and the risks to the marine environment from human activities. We held sci-art workshops with 1600 students at 16 schools in Nelson and Marlborough. The resulting combined artwork created by the students, The Unseen, was exhibited at Albion Square, Nelson. We have also produced short films and other creative outputs to engage with the public. 

Another focus of our research, is to understand how trust among researchers can enhance the quality of knowledge needed for EBM. We are using focus groups and interviews to consider how trust is developed and maintained between Challenge researchers and experts who have diverse interests and experiences. We are also exploring the Challenge’s capacity to build trust with Māori and stakeholders.  

Journal articles

 

The Unseen: this art-science-education research is working with communities and school children to explore the risks associated with environmental and climate change, and how this might affect the way we manage New Zealand’s marine ecosystems.

Latest news and updates

'Toolkit' for managing cumulative effects

The latest Resource Management Journal is a special issue about our collaborative research into how management of cumulative effects (CE) can be improved. It includes a suite of co-developed recommendations and guidance regarding how to progress work on CE management in Aotearoa.

Tracking the transport of ocean trash

A web-based interactive tool tracks how floating plastic waste moves around New Zealand's coastline. Initially designed as an educational tool for schools, the Ocean Plastic Simulator also has potential for environmental and biosecurity monitoring, and aquaculture.

Blue Economy theme: co-development and funding update

If you're interested in being involved in co-developing our core research projects and/or want notifications about our Innovation Fund then email sustainableseasNC@niwa.co.nz