Enabling inter-agency collaboration on cumulative effects

ocean waves breaking onshore

We are producing guiding principles to help decision-makers manage the cumulative effects of human activities and natural events on the marine environment.

Project leader: Kate Davies, NIWA

Duration: July 2017 – July 2019 
Budget: $300,000 
Status: Completed 

Managing the cumulative effects that arise from human activities and natural events is one of the most urgent and complex problems facing marine resource use decision makers today. 

Cumulative effects management in Aotearoa New Zealand is fragmented and inconsistent. This is largely due to disjointed legislative regimes and institutions. There is a need to account for interactions at different scales; data scarcity and uncertainty; and conflicting societal and economic expectations, values, and rights that are poorly integrated into decision-making. A consistent, ki uta ki tai (mountains-to-sea) strategy is needed because human and natural stressors cross political, jurisdictional, cultural and geographic boundaries.  

Until now, there has been little impetus for changing behaviours and management of marine ecosystems. Through this research, many of the agencies and institutions interested in cumulative effects management are working together to address this challenge.  

We are showing where values, knowledge, and practices can be aligned to create more systematic approaches to managing cumulative effects and developing a framework that will help agencies and institutions do this. Our research recommendations will let managers make more informed decisions within existing legislative and institutional constraints.

This research builds on the work of the Navigating marine social-ecological systems project.

Project partners

The research team represents a range of organisations including: Aquaculture NZ, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Environmental Protection Authority, HH & R Mikaere Ltd, Marlborough District Council, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NIWA, Te Ohu Kaimoana, Tūtaiao, University of Auckland, and Victoria University.

Research round-up

This is a concise lay-friendly summary of the research and its findings.

Journal articles

  • Davies, K., Fisher, K., Foley, M., Greenaway, A., Le Heron, R, Mikaere, H., Ratana, K., Spiers, R., & Lundquist, C. (2017) From the mountains to the seas: developing a shared vision for addressing cumulative effects in Aotearoa New Zealand. Regions Magazine, 308(4): 15-18. 

  • Davies, K, Fisher, K, Foley, M, Greenaway, A, Hewitt, J, Le Heron, R, Mikaere, H, Ratana, K, Spiers, R and Lundquist, C. (2018). Navigating collaborative networks and cumulative effects for Sustainable Seas. Environmental Science & Policy 83, 22-32.

Project proposal

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