Enabling marine ecosystem-based management: Is New Zealand’s legal framework up to the task?

Dr Alison Greenaway1, Raewyn Peart2, Lara Taylor1

1Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Auckland, New Zealand

2Environmental Defence Society, Auckland, New Zealand


Ecosystem-based management has been proposed as a more effective way of addressing complex environmental challenges in the marine environment. The NZ Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge has recently proposed seven principles to underpin marine ecosystem-based management in New Zealand reflecting international experience and the essential role of Māori in New Zealand society. We review the extent to which the current legal framework enables these principles to be applied in the New Zealand context. There is an uneven approach across New Zealand’s legislative landscape with some important areas requiring rationalisation, modernisation and strengthening. One way to achieve this, without undertaking fundamental reform, would be to provide a national statutory framework for marine spatial planning in order to provide a stronger framework for the application of the proposed EBM principles.


Dr Greenaway attends to co-production of sustainable development knowledge and practice. She facilitates and evaluates processes which foster collective deliberation to address complex issues. Alison is currently exploring technologies for invasive species management; implementation of large scale biodiversity restoration; pest control across public-private boundaries; and marine ecosystem based management.

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