The Oceans Governance project was funded by the Emerging Issues Programme, overseen by the Institute of Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. Its primary goal is to provide interested members of the public and policymakers with a general overview and a description of the types of principles, planning tools and policy instruments that can be used to strengthen and improve marine governance in New Zealand.
The major findings of this study are that the existing marine governance framework in New Zealand emphasises a traditional sector-by-sector approach to management and planning and that this fragmented governance framework contributes to a number of institutional challenges. In addition, the study identifies a number of factors that influence marine planning and decision-making in the country, including but not limited to; the relationships between economic use of marine resources and the maintenance of marine ecosystem services and goods; Māori interests, perspectives and treaty obligations; the role of international treaties and conventions; the synergistic and cumulative impacts of multiple use and climate disturbance on marine ecosystems, and the role of scientists and science in marine planning and decision-making.
The report makes two general recommendations. First, with respect to the territorial sea (which includes the marine area out to 12 nautical miles) the report recommends that regional councils develop integrative marine plans where conflict between users and users-ecosystems is likely to develop in the future. Second, the report recommends the adoption of new role for central government to support an ecosystem-based approach to integrative marine planning and decision-making.