Read the NZCA's principles developed to guide its contribution and/or response to issues relating to marine and coastal protection and management.

Revision of Marine Principles (2016) and Coastal Management Principles (2017). Adopted June 2022.


The Authority has developed marine and coastal management principles that include governance, conservation[1], and sustainable use of the marine environment[2]. These principles are a tool to guide the Authority in its contribution and/or response to issues relating to marine and coastal protection and management.

NZCA Policy

The Authority supports Ki Uta Ki Tai - the continuum from the mountains to the open sea and a hierarchy of obligations (as reflected in Te Mana o Te Wai) namely, prioritising the health and well-being of the coast and oceans; the needs of tangata whenua and people in their cultural and communal associations with the coast and oceans; and the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being.


1. Protection of our coastal and marine environment - biodiversity, ecosystems, the water column, benthic environments, and marine landforms - is a national, international, and intergenerational responsibility to be governed for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

2. The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi will be upheld, and the resulting obligations will be delivered.

3. Decision-making will be informed by mātauranga[3] of tangata whenua along with new sources of information, research, and robust science, recognising the dynamic nature of marine environments and the impacts of global climate change.

4. Any allocation of rights to use marine resources will be based on robust and appropriate research and science.

5. The marine environment should be regularly monitored: new information and research results reviewed, and management responsive to incorporate findings.

6. Where there is insufficient information, the precautionary principle will apply.

Conservation and protection

7. Our unique indigenous marine flora and fauna will be the priority for protection.

8. Intergenerational equity requires that non-extractive values and ecosystem services of the marine and coastal environment – intrinsic values, cultural values, wildness values, spiritual values - are protected.[4]

9. Well designed and properly managed marine protected areas are an integral element to an ecosystem based approach to marine management, providing safe havens for marine biodiversity, providing the framework to implement those measures necessary to conserve the most critical ecosystems, including species survival and reproduction, migration corridors, spawning grounds, and nursery areas.

10. A spectrum of protection mechanisms will be employed to enable communities to be involved in the protection, conservation, restoration and use of marine ecosystems. Such protection mechanisms will uphold the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and deliver against its obligations.

11. Concepts of mataitai, taiapure, kawenata, and rahui should be integral to the development of marine protected areas, to recognise customary non-commercial rights.

Sustainable use

12. The marine environment will be sustainably managed in an integrated way that recognises the complex inter-relationships of land, sea, and air, and that maintains its potential for future generations, and balancing the rights and interests of customary, individual and corporate users.

13. Management of marine harvesting needs to be responsive within ecologically relevant timeframes, and with regard to cumulative impacts,  acknowledging the changes brought about by natural processes in a dynamic environment (e.g. coastal erosion, uplift from earthquakes, subsidence, storm impacts etc), as well as the impacts of climate change (e.g. intensification of storms, increased climate variability, sea level rise, ocean acidification, heat waves), and their impacts on habitats and ecosystems and the distribution of marine species.

14. While aquaculture offers the potential for sustainable production of seafood, this should be sited in appropriate locations minimising impacts on sea floor and water column communities, with appropriate controls to restrict the spread of disease and pests.

15. Translocation of marine species for aquaculture as well as for the restoration of marine species, habitats and ecosystems needs to be conducted mindfully with consultation with iwi and consideration of risks associated with diseases and pests.

16. The extraction of finite resources (e.g. mining), is to be avoided where possible. If after an assessment of the risks to a full range of marine environmental values has been conducted, and it is deemed that critical finite resources are essential to meet a significant national requirement, extraction should be carried out in a manner that minimises the adverse impacts of the activity on the marine environment and in accordance with the polluter/user pays principle.

17. Marine tourism activities (e.g. water taxis, guided kayak tours, charter fishers, diving, marine transport, commercial filming, recreation events, research) need to be operated with regard to the sustainability of activities within the ecosystem and their cumulative impacts.

18. Marine biosecurity is a significant issue in the marine environment. Non-indigenous marine species pose a threat to native species, habitats and ecosystem functions, and it is critical that care is taken to restrict spread of species once introduced, and to evaluate and minimise the risks associated with economic use of non-indigenous species.


[1] Conservation includes the concepts of preservation, protection, and restoration  

[2] Marine environment includes the territorial sea (12nm) and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (200nm) and Extended Continental Shelf (ECS).

[3] Māori knowledge

[4] Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services, such as nutrient cycling, that maintain the conditions for life on Earth.

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