Kapiti Island at sunset

Introduction

DOC is working with others to carry out research that will contribute to the future of marine protection.

About the MPA programme

The Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) research programme aims to build a strong science and policy base for marine management. This will make the design and placement of marine protection more effective at protecting our diverse marine life.

Many agencies are working to develop this research. They include DOC, Fisheries New Zealand, Ministry for the Environment, and other research institutes. Some are based in New Zealand or in other parts of the world.

The programme is funded by the government’s Budget 2018 for conservation. This is to help develop improved approaches to marine protection. Each approach will be guided by fit-for-purpose science and policy solutions.

Learn more about the conservation funding set in the 2018 budget.

MPA programme reports

These reports were produced as part of the MPA programme and other initiatives, focusing on improving how we protect marine biodiversity.

Development of a New Zealand Seafloor Community Classification

Published: 2021

Following a review of common marine habitat and ecosystem classifications, a new habitat classification has been developed for New Zealand’s marine environment; the Seafloor Community Classification (SCC).

This report details all the biological and environment datasets, the methodology used, and an overview of the SCC.

Development of a New Zealand Seafloor Community Classification (PDF, 2,955K)

Supplementary information on individual Seafloor Community Classification group descriptions

Published: 2021

This document provides supplementary information describing individual groups within the 75-group Seafloor Community Classification (SCC).

This includes the location of the SCC groups within the New Zealand marine environment; information on environmental characteristics; description of species’ assemblages; and a summary of model uncertainty.

Supplementary information on Individual Seafloor Community Classification group descriptions (PDF, 5,894K)

Guidance for the use of decision-support tools for identifying optimal areas for biodiversity conservation

Published: 2021. Lundquist et al. NIWA

A decision-support tool for marine spatial planning

Marine protection and spatial planning can be informed by tools that help to prioritise the best areas for biodiversity conservation, taking into account other values and uses.

Guidance for the use of decision-support tools for identifying optimal areas for biodiversity conservation (PDF, 573K)

A review of the objectives of New Zealand's marine reserves

Published: 2020

This report considers what objectives may need to be considered in potential future marine protection.

This literature review summarises the objectives for the 44 marine reserves established in NZ to date. For example, objectives may be to protect biodiversity generally, or to protect a particular species or habitat. Objectives may also be to provide for scientific, educational and cultural values. 

A review of the objectives of NZ marine reserves (PDF, 8832K)

A review of habitat use, home range, and connectivity for New Zealand species

Published: 2020

This review highlights the importance of considering species-specific requirements when designing a network of marine protected areas.

This report considers how big a marine protected area should be and explores some factors that sizing can depend on. This includes which species, habitats or ecosystem functions are the objective of protection.

A review of habitat use, home range, and connectivity for NZ species (PDF, 2,467K)

Quantitative targets for marine protection: a review of the scientific basis and applications

Published: 2020

This literature review provides an overview of targets for marine protection, and the scientific basis for these targets. Targets can be quantitative, such as the area that an MPA covers, or qualitative, such as connectivity between protected areas.

This report also provides examples of how targets have been applied to marine protected areas in New Zealand, and compares them to those in the UK, USA, and Australia.

Quantitative targets for marine protection: a review of the scientific basis and applications (PDF, 673K)

Mapping key ecological areas in the New Zealand marine environment: data collation

Published: 2018

An assessment of data that could be used to identify key ecological areas in our seas.
This report examines how important sites could be identified using consistent criteria.

A comprehensive and representative network of marine protected areas (MPAs) should include sites that are significant for biodiversity (here termed ‘key ecological areas’, or KEAs) as well as more common marine habitats.

Mapping key ecological areas in the New Zealand marine environment: data collation (PDF, 7,185K)

Evaluating Key Ecological Areas datasets for the New Zealand marine environment

Published: 2020

A follow up assessment of data that could be used to identify key ecological areas in our seas.

Building on the "Mapping key ecological areas in the NZ Marine environment" report, this report evaluates the 27 data sets previously identified and any new data sets, against the Key Ecological Area (KEA) criteria. It also considers which of these KEA criteria are adequately described by the datasets.

Evaluating Key Ecological Areas (KEA) datasets for the New Zealand Marine Environment (PDF 6,430K)

Review of New Zealand's coastal and marine habitat and ecosystem classification

Published: 2018

A review of common habitat and ecosystem classifications applied in New Zealand and overseas.
This report explores how we can classify New Zealand's coastal and marine communities and habitats in a way that can be used effectively for management and protection.

It provides a review of common habitat and ecosystem classifications that have been applied in NZ and overseas, and considers the data requirements and limitations of the various approaches.

Review of New Zealand's coastal and marine habitat and ecosystem classification (PDF, 3,820K)

New Zealand Marine Protected Areas: gaps analysis

Published: 2019

A report on how well the current network of MPAs represents the variety of marine habitats we have in New Zealand coastal waters.

New Zealand has a range of marine protected areas (MPAs), but how well do they represent the variety of marine habitats found in our territorial sea? This gaps analysis looked at the coverage of current MPAs based on two design criteria; representation and replication.

The review found current marine protected areas (MPAs) do not protect a representative range of habitats (as defined by the current MPA habitat classification) and that more than 65% of marine habitats are not protected within a marine reserve.

New Zealand Marine Protected Areas: gaps analysis (PDF, 1,998K)

New Zealand Marine Protected Areas: Principles for network design

Published: 2019

An overview of the fundamental principles of designing an effective network of marine protected areas. This report reviews potential design principles for establishing a network of marine protected areas.

It considers how to incorporate principles of representation, replication, adequacy, viability and connectivity.

New Zealand Marine Protected Areas: Principles for network design (PDF, 6,242K)

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