Marine Protected Areas research programme
IntroductionDOC 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.
MPA programme reports
These reports were produced as part of the MPA programme and other initiatives, focusing on improving how we protect marine biodiversity.
Marine biodiversity framework for Aotearoa New Zealand
The objective of the biodiversity mapping framework is to develop a portfolio of maps that map taxon-specific areas of ecological importance, and to develop guidance on how the maps could be used to inform marine management decisions.
This report describes the mapping of the biological diversity criterion, defined as areas that contain comparatively higher diversity of ecosystems, habitats, communities or species, or higher genetic diversity.
An atlas of seabed biodiversity for Aotearoa New Zealand
This report describes the development and accessibility of an online atlas of seabed biodiversity. Species distribution models were developed for 579 taxa across four taxonomic groups: demersal fish, reef fish, subtidal invertebrates and macroalgae.
This database provides the most comprehensive source of information on the distribution of seafloor taxa for Aotearoa New Zealand and is thus a valuable resource for managers, researchers and the public that will guide the management and conservation of seafloor communities.
A seafloor bioregionalisation for New Zealand
Building on the New Zealand Seafloor Community Classification, a range of broader classifications were assessed for their suitability to represent seafloor bioregions.
Following analysis of within- and between-group classification strength, using analysis of similarities (ANOSIM), and visually exploring the geographic patterns at different classification levels, the 9-group classification was defined as the New Zealand Seafloor Bioregionalisation.
Development of a seafloor community classification for the New Zealand region
This is a peer-reviewed article describing the development of the New Zealand Seafloor Community Classification (NZSCC).
Developing a maintenance framework for the NZSCC
This report describes the development of a maintenance framework to support the use of the New Zealand Seafloor Community Classification (NZSCC) for marine spatial planning and marine protection processes.
The framework outlines methods to statistically validate the NZSCC using independent data, while considering heterogeneity in environmental coverage and statistical uncertainty of the NZSCC.
Review of deep rocky and biogenic reefs knowledge in New Zealand
This report establishes a baseline for improving our understanding of deep reef ecosystems by reviewing and mapping potential proxies for reefs located between 50 to 300 m depth throughout New Zealand’s territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone.
It identifies what can be inferred about deep reefs from existing national data sets, anthropogenic threats to these ecosystems, and regions where further survey and research effort is required.
Deep rocky and biogenic reef habitats of East Northland
New Zealand’s deep reefs are poorly mapped and described, despite increasing evidence that they may be widespread within the Exclusive Economic Zone.
Seafloor video and multibeam sonar data collected along the East Northland Coast as part of the Bay of Islands OS2020 programme was used to describe and quantify the extensive deep reef (50–200 metres water depth) systems present on the northeastern continental shelf.
A preliminary exploration of the rocky mesophotic communities of the Wellington Region
Rocky mesophotic communities have been reported at several locations around New Zealand, where they are typically found within a depth range of ~30 – 150 m. While the presence of deep rocky features are often known, the biological communities inhabiting these features are rarely documented.
This report describes rocky deepwater features on the Wellington South Coast and Kapiti Coast to assess the benthic communities they support.
Using Benthic Terrain Modeller to characterise Aotearoa New Zealand seafloor geomorphology
DOC Research and Development Series 367
In this report, we used the tools provided within the current release of the Benthic Terrain Modeler (BTM v3.0) to consistently apply BTM across 50 multibeam survey datasets conducted between 1999–2020.
This allowed us to create a portfolio of benthic terrain maps for Aotearoa New Zealand, providing the ability to compare seafloor topography across sites. The portfolio includes benthic terrain datasets that cover 23.1% of Aotearoa New Zealand’s territorial sea and 0.3% of the exclusive economic zone.
Development of a New Zealand Seafloor Community Classification
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).
The report details all the biological and environment datasets, the methodology used, and an overview of the SCC.
Supplementary information on individual Seafloor Community Classification group descriptions
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.
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.
A review of the objectives of New Zealand's marine reserves
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 habitat use, home range, and connectivity for New Zealand species
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.
Quantitative targets for marine protection: a review of the scientific basis and applications
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.
Mapping key ecological areas in the New Zealand marine environment: data collation
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.
Evaluating Key Ecological Areas datasets for the New Zealand marine environment
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.
Review of New Zealand's coastal and marine habitat and ecosystem classification
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.
New Zealand Marine Protected Areas: gaps analysis
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: Principles for network design
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.