• Active project

Marlborough Sounds regional study

In this collaboration, we are investigating how EBM can be used to manage shellfish populations in the Marlborough Sounds.

Project Leader Duration Budget
Vonda Cummings (NIWA), Oliver Wade (Marlborough District Council), Eric Jorgensen (Marlborough Sounds Integrated Management Trust) & Larnce Wichman (Marlborough Sounds Integrated Management Trust) December 2020 – February 2024 $315,000


The Marlborough Sounds is a large, diverse, and ecologically valuable area. The idea of an ecosystem-based management (EBM) case study with a shellfish focus was co-developed at workshops attended by representatives of iwi and stakeholders from the Marlborough community, central, regional, and local government, as well as researchers. 

Stage 1: Together with our co-developers, we identified the specific focus and the pathway for trialling EBM of shellfish in the Marlborough Sounds area. Our findings were discussed and agreed at an end-of-stage in-person workshop, then used to develop Stage 2. 

Stage 2: We are:

  • Developing a method for shellfish-ecosystem evaluation and management in a region of stakeholders with diverse interests and values
  • Producing a decision support tool – an interactive (and updatable) mapping product to:
    • visualise the current state – and state of knowledge, of shellfish and their habitats and
    • prioritise EBM activities and future restoration efforts

These will improve EBM practises, providing a pathway and plan for improving shellfish populations and habitats that can guide future management actions and priorities including identifying local aspirations for shellfish recovery, and the information and activities required to achieve these.

We are engaging with iwi, stakeholders and decision-makers, and will hold virtual and in person workshops (at least 3) at specific stages of the project.

Research Team

Vonda Cummings (NIWA)
Oliver Wade (Marlborough District Council)
Eric Jorgensen (Marlborough Sounds Integrated Management Trust)
Larnce Wichman (Marlborough Sounds Integrated Management Trust)
Vera Rullens (Contractor)
Jane Halliday (NIWA)
James Williams (NIWA)
Sean Handley (NIWA)
Emma Toy (Marlborough District Council)

Co-Development Partners

We gratefully acknowledge the many community members and tangata whenua who contributed to discussions that have helped shaped Stage 2. It was not possible to determine from each person whether they were happy to be named.

Related News



  • December 2020 – June 2021
    Engagement with co-development partners to identify research concepts and develop Stage 2 proposal
  • July 2021
    Stage 2 proposal submitted
  • December 2022
    Species distribution map(s) finalised
  • March 2023
    Predictive distribution models completed and made available to research team
  • June 2023
    Intervention activities planned and prioritised with area-based teams
  • December 2023
    Recommendations for long-term management to improve shellfish health are developed for project team
  • March 2024
    A summary of projects findings and recommendations, co-developed with iwi and stakeholders, is finalised