Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-15-2012


The primary goal of this report is to provide interested members of the public and policymakers with a general overview and a description of the types of principles, planning tools, and policy instruments that can be used to strengthen and improve marine governance in New Zealand. As extractive uses (hydrocarbons and minerals, in particular) ramp up and others are explored and brought on line in the marine areas of New Zealand, the need will increase for a more integrative, ecosystem-based approach to marine governance.

This study is based on the following types of analysis:

• a review of the literature on the existing governance framework in New Zealand

• a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on integrative, ecosystem-based marine governance

• an evaluation of case study materials on offshore oil and gas development, marine aquaculture, marine life protection, and marine minerals exploration

• a examination of New Zealand’s marine policies and legislation

• a synthesis of materials and input from participants in the project’s four workshops on the subjects of marine farming, aquaculture, marine science and technology, and marine governance

• an assessment of the information and materials gained from a series of confidential, one-on-one and group interviews, conducted in person or by telephone during 2010 and 2011, with a selection of ocean stakeholders including academics, members of non-government organizations, regional and national resource managers, members of the public service, and representatives of major ocean industries, such as offshore oil, commercial fishing, and mining interests.

The major findings of this study are that the existing marine governance framework in New Zealand emphasises a traditional sector-by-sector approach to management and planning, and that this fragmented governance framework contributes to a number of institutional challenges, such as:

• a spatial and temporal overlap of human activities and their objectives, causing conflicts (user–user and user–ecosystem conflicts)

• a lack of connection between the various authorities responsible for individual activities

• a lack of connection between offshore activities and resource use and onshore communities that are dependent on them

• a lack of protection of culturally and ecologically sensitive marine areas.

In addition, the study identifies a number of factors that influence marine planning and decision-making in the country, including but not limited to:

• a lack of institutional capacity and capability to govern marine resources and address ecosystem issues across administrative jurisdictions and management sectors

• general scientific uncertainty and a paucity of information with respect to the resources and the more general ecological features of the marine area

• the relationships between economic use of marine resources and the maintenance of marine ecosystem services and goods

• Māori interests, perspectives and treaty obligations

• increasing pressures from the use of marine areas, including the impacts of terrestrial inputs from coastal waterways on nearshore marine ecosystems and resources

• the role of international treaties and conventions

• the synergistic and cumulative impacts of multiple use and climate disturbance on marine ecosystems

• the role of scientists and science in marine planning and decision-making.

This report describes two general recommendations. First, with respect to the territorial sea (which includes the marine area out to 12 nautical miles) the report recommends that regional councils develop integrative marine plans where conflict between users and users-ecosystems is likely to develop in the future. Second, the report recommends the adoption of a new role for central government to support an ecosystem-based approach to integrative marine planning and decision-making. Within central government, stronger interagency coordination and new public policy are needed to address future marine resource conflicts and to support an ecosystem-based approach to integrative marine planning and collaborative decision- making for the EEZ. There is also a new role for place-based collaborative decision-making and planning to address conflicts in marine areas that are likely to be developed in the future. A range of new principles of marine governance, planning tools and policy instruments are described that support a marine ecosystem-based approach to integrative planning across management sectors for the EEZ.


Dr Michael Vincent McGinnis received a PhD in Political Science in 1993. He is an Associate Professor of International Marine Science and Policy at the Graduate School of International Policy and Management, Monterey Institute of International Studies and the Center for the Blue Economy in California, USA. He was Director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Center at the University of California Santa Barbara from 1995-2010. He has published over 100 journal articles, essays, books, government reports and technical documents on the subject of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem-based planning.