• Academic publication

Characterising the regulatory seascape in Aotearoa New Zealand: bridging local, regional and national scales for marine ecosystem-based management

Urlich SC, White FR & Rennie HG (2022) Ocean and Coastal Management, 224: 106193

Key points
  • EBM requires reconciliation of management at different scales 
  • Incremental changes can be implemented now, pending wider system reform 
  • A diagnosis of current institutional performance and interactions is needed to inform the reforms 
  • Aotearoa NZ is an interesting case study as reform is underway and Indigenous involvement is increasing 
  • Opportunities exist to align management, but current system issues require attention 

Incremental management changes within existing regulatory settings are possible now to address deteriorating ocean health, pending more systemic reforms to institutionalise ecosystem-based management (EBM). A targeted characterisation of the regulatory seascape is necessary to help identify effective short-term actions, and to accurately diagnose what system elements may need major change. In this study, we examine the regulatory and institutional interplay between central government, sub-national regional authorities, and Indigenous Māori in the protection, and management of habitat-forming biogenic species, in territorial waters of Aotearoa New Zealand. There are statutory imperatives to protect these biodiverse habitats, as seabed disturbance from bottom-contact methods is a significant ongoing threat to habitat extent and condition.  We found generic institutional failings to implement core legislation, at both regional and national scales. Protection and recovery of biogenic habitats cannot wait for major reform however, given their importance for biodiversity and human wellbeing. 


Marine ecosystem-based management, fisheries and biodiversity, Indigenous environmental management, Rāhui, Aotearoa New Zealand