Posted on 15 April 2022
Our impact on the ‘state of the environment’ report
"Human activities including pollution, overfishing, and impacts from climate change are damaging the mauri of our marine environments and reducing our ability to connect with them.”
That’s the message from Environment Aotearoa 2022, and our research has shown just how important that connection with the ocean is.
Findings from our Whai rawa, whai mana, whai oranga project were included in the report, highlighting the relationship between Māori businesses and the environment, and how it can be improved.
“A survey of people involved in Māori fishing businesses found that maintaining the mauri of the ocean was equally as important as making a profit … a similar majority rated the ability for Māori to exercise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) as limited.”
The report, which contains mātauranga Māori woven throughout, has some familiar names in it. Shaun Awatere, leader of the Tangaroa progamme, and Dan Hikuroa, co-leader of the Enabling kaitiakitanga and EBM project were both part of the advisory team.
There are many topics throughout the report that our research is relevant to, such as the decline of key kaimoana (seafood) species. For example, the report spotlighted the:
- Decline of kuku/kūtai in Ōhiwa Harbour – The Awhi Mai Awhi Atu project is combining mātauranga Māori, western science and local kaitiakitanga to aid in the recovery of the harbour’s once abundant mussel reefs and shellfish
- Collapse of toheroa, an iconic surf clam and taonga species, due to unsustainable harvest and have yet to recover despite 50 years of protection – Thinking outside the can is working to sustainably harvest spat (juvenile toheroa) to supply a community-based toheroa aquaculture industry
- Effects of seabed trawling – Our Quantifying seafloor contact project is developing low-cost, user-friendly bottom contact sensors to aid in investigating exactly how, when, and where commercial trawling gear contacts the seafloor, supporting evidence-based decision-making
The report also touched on the effects of sedimentation on our ocean: “Increased sediment in estuaries and along coasts directly affects the health of many species.”
- Our Ecological responses to cumulative effects project is investigating the cumulative effects of multiple stressors on soft-sediment and rocky reef biodiversity and ecosystem function
- The Sediment tolerance and mortality thresholds of benthic habitats project is providing useful insights into the ecological effects of suspended sediments on deep-sea seabed species
- We investigated Tipping points in ecosystem structure, function and services as a result of multiple stressors including human activities such as increased sediment, nutrients or contaminants in the water
- Several completed projects have produced a number of user-focused outputs relevant to sediment such as guidance docs, presentations and research summaries, including how far it is carried out to sea, implications for managing turbidity, and much more