• Active project

Policy and legislation for EBM

We are developing a research base for policy makers, iwi and stakeholders to navigate the legislative, policy and practice constraints surrounding EBM and any changes required to enable it.

Project Leader Duration Budget
Elizabeth Macpherson (University of Canterbury) & Steve Urlich (Lincoln University) April 2020 – June 2023 $1,374,800


In 2019, the Ministry for the Environment released Our Marine Environment and Environment Aotearoa. These reports revealed that the way Aotearoa New Zealand currently manages its marine resources is not enough to prevent widespread, ongoing habitat degradation and loss, or the alarming population declines of many native marine species.

To improve our management and use of marine resources, we need to integrate law, policy, regulation, and practice across all levels of government (including iwi) and sectors of society. This integrated system is essential to implementing ecosystem-based management (EBM).

Applying an EBM approach to marine management will require institutional and regulatory arrangements that are uniquely tailored to Aotearoa New Zealand. It will also require a widespread understanding of what EBM involves, and the adoption of EBM-supportive practices.

The project objective is to provide a robust research base to support policy makers, iwi, and stakeholders to navigate the legislative, policy and practice constraints surrounding EBM and any changes required to enable it.

Our three research aims are:

  1. To identify and analyse a range of legal and policy options to enable both progressive and transformative change, and the practice, policy, and legislative implications involved in transition to EBM.

  2. To understand and articulate the risk of different management options and scales in an EBM context; and create adaptive management options appropriate to fluid spatial and temporal scales.

  3. To identify what opportunities exist for EBM implementation and determine what needs to change to support successful implementation of EBM in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Ultimately, our findings will need to be adapted, or taken up and actioned, by multiple organisations at different scales and for different purposes. Engagement and collaboration with end-users throughout our research project will be critical for this.

Research Team

Judi Hewitt (NIWA)
Hamish Rennie (Lincoln University)
Karen Fisher (University of Auckland)
Eric Jorgensen (P Jorgensen & Sons Ltd)
Johanna Yletyinen (Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research)
Adrienne Paul (University of Canterbury)

Related News


This is a national project.


  • May 2021
    Comparative study of EBM in international law and policy (academic publication)
  • June 2021
    Comparative study of EBM (end-user output); Implications of recent changes in regulatory seascape (academic publication)
  • November 2021
    Implications (end-user output); Analysis of marine governance at different scales (end-user output)
  • June 2022
    Barriers and opportunities to implementing preferred options (academic publication)
  • September 2022
    Barriers and opportunities (end-user output)
  • November 2022
    Scale models of risk to different ecosystem and users (academic publication)
  • January 2023
    Scale models of risk (end-user output)
  • June 2023
    Transition plan towards EBM (report) and EBM governance arrangements and pathways for implementation (policy brief)