DOC works with regional marine protection planning forums to create marine protected areas.

DOC is collaborating with iwi, communities and interest groups with the goal of establishing a nationwide network of marine protected areas representative of New Zealand’s marine habitats and ecosystems by 2025.

The network will also protect outstanding, rare, distinctive or important marine habitats or ecosystems.

We collaborate through the regional marine protection planning forum process and support a forum's decision making about marine protection for their region. This recognises the value communities put on a healthy marine environment, ensuring a region’s economic and social wellbeing and prosperity.

Applications to establish MPAs can still be made outside the forum process. 

Marine protection planning forum process

The process of creating an MPA begins with the establishment of a regional community-based planning forum.

Members of a regional forum are selected from public nominations, and usually include people who are representative of the region’s marine interests. Forums are usually made up of tangata whenua, regional councils, marine biodiversity interest groups and the users and stakeholders whose use of marine areas may be affected by MPAs.

Technical support, information and advice to forums are provided by DOC and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The forum process is complete when the forum finalises its recommendations for marine protection and is ready to present them to the government, which makes the final decisions. This process usually takes about 18 months to complete.

The recommendation represents a consensus within the forum, and is a balanced consideration of the needs and views of those consulted. Recommendations aim to cover the full range of marine ecosystems and habitats within the region, as well as those that are rare, distinctive, or internationally or nationally significant.

Marine protection planning forums operate across 14 bioregions. 

Current and completed forums

The South-East Marine Protection Forum has completed its work on options for marine protection along the coastline between Timaru in the north, to Waipapa Point on the southern coast of the South Island.

The Forum provided recommendations to the Ministers of Conservation and Fisheries in February 2018. The Ministers are actively considering those recommendations. The Forum’s recommendations report is available on the Forum's website.

These forums have successfully concluded the collaboration process, resulting in marine protection being implemented in their areas. Both forums experienced significant positive input from their wider communities.

  • Subantarctic Regional Marine Protection Planning Forum – three Type 1 MPAs (marine reserves) established.
  • West Coast Marine Protection Forum – five Type 1 MPAs (marine reserves) and three Type 2 MPAs (fisheries closures) established.

Useful information

The following information is useful for the process of selecting and establishing of MPAs:

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