Creating value from a blue economy

Seaweed harvesting. © Waikaitu Ltd

We are studying initiatives to create economic value from sustainable marine activities based on healthy ecosystems. We will use the findings to map and model a blue economy.

Project leader: Nick Lewis, University of Auckland

Duration: April 2016 – June 2019 
Budget: $1,135,000 
Status: Ongoing 

In recent years, advocates for sustainable oceans have focused attention on building a sustainable ‘blue economy’, where innovative practices that promote and sustain diverse industries are based on healthy marine ecosystems. 

We are studying Aotearoa New Zealand-based initiatives to create economic value from sustainable marine practices and activities. We have considered five broad and overlapping marine sub-economies (iwi, techno-science, commodity, community, and small business), and are investigating connections between them. Our research is:  

  • Defining what a blue economy means for Aotearoa New Zealand and working with economic enterprises and agencies to ensure that its opportunities are recognised and realised. 
  • Ensuring that blue economy considerations are incorporated into models of ecosystem-based management. 
  • Identifying sites and possibilities for transitions to a blue economy. 
  • Identifying and supporting regional development initiatives to foster regional blue economies and develop their potential. 
  • Highlighting specific enterprise-level production and investment practices that are helping to bring about a blue economy.  

We have found several activities that are helping Aotearoa New Zealand transition to a blue economy including: investor commitments to sustainable futures (Seafood New Zealand’s ‘Our Promise’ campaign), consumer-oriented and community education programmes; the emergence of Māori enterprises with long term and kaitiakitanga approaches to blue economy; blue economy champions (individuals and organisations) who support participatory resource management processes; and a host of practices from precision seafood harvesting to harvesting of seaweed.  

Journal articles:  

Book chapters: 

  • Lewis N (2018). Cultivating diverse values by rethinking blue economy in New Zealand. Heidkamp CP and Morrissey J (eds) Towards coastal resilience and sustainability, Routledge, Oxford.
  • 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.

  • Lewis N & Le Heron R (2018). Re-imagining economy: a fundamental first step for a regenerative Environmental Management. In Clarke B & Hay I. Challenging Environmental Management, Edward Elgar.

Latest news and updates

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Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge researchers are hoping that marine health data gathered on a recent field trip to Queen Charlotte Sounds will support more integrated management of the ecosystem.

Developing ecosystem-based management principles for NZ

The Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge leadership team have proposed seven major principles for ecosystem-based management (EBM) in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Growing a successful and sustainable Māori marine economy

The Sustainable Seas research team led by Dr John Reid and Dr Jason Mika have identified five key factors that will drive growth of the Māori marine economy: