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In this issue: Director's update, Tidal energy webinar, Innovation Fund projects, Instagram, New reports and papers published

Ngā kōrero a te whakataka 
Director’s update  

Kia ora koutou,

I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved, collaborated, interacted with, and supported, us during 2020 – it has been a long and disruptive year for us all. I have been impressed with the dedication I’ve seen to ensuring our research, co-development, engagement and communications have continued as smoothly as possible.

This year has taught us many valuable lessons, from learning to collaborate digitally (and more sustainably), to the power of collective action based on evidence. Following widespread public realisation of the value of access to our coasts and oceans to our mental and physical well-being, we’ve also seen increasing conversation about the health of our moana at a national level. More people are asking: how do we find a balance between ocean health and a thriving economy?

This increased public focus is reflected in Government. The new Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, the Hon David Parker, recently commented on the need for a holistic approach to managing our marine environment, and the many different ways we humans use and value it. We look forward to working with Minister Parker, stakeholders and Māori partners, to support implementation of holistic, ecosystem-based management of our oceans.

Earlier this year I wrote that ‘the continuing decline of our marine ecosystems and financial impact of Covid-19 means that Kiwi ingenuity in the marine space is needed more than ever.’ As we look for new ways to recover from the impacts of Covid-19, and work to balance the ocean and economy, I’m delighted to announce 6 Innovation Fund projects, and the names and project leaders for our 4 core blue economy research projects. These projects will help Aotearoa New Zealand to create a blue economy that recognises that the long-term economic use of marine resources depends on thriving marine ecosystems.

In keeping with this year of change, we said farewell to Chloe Hauraki as Challenge Manager, and welcomed Marie Davis into that role. Marie is an expert in project management and will play a vital role as our Phase II projects continue to advance in the new year.

On behalf of the Sustainable Seas team, I wish you a safe and relaxing festive season and summer break.

Ngā mihi nui


Dr Julie Hall, Challenge Director

Ngā pitopito kōrero 
News

Haere mai to Marie Davis, new Challenge Manager

We are delighted to welcome Marie Davis to the Sustainable Seas Challenge Leadership Team as the new Challenge Manager. She joins us from Spark NZ, where she was responsible for the delivery of ICT projects for government and enterprise customers. Meet Marie.
 

Innovation Fund: 6 projects funded

Sunscreen made from algae, sea-star collagen, using native plants to collect baby mussels and bringing back the iconic toheroa are just a few of the ideas being funded by the Innovation Fund 2020. These projects are collaborations with researchers, industry and Māori partners, and are guided by the needs of people and communities.
See the full list of projects.

Blue economy: core projects

We are delighted to announce the names and project co-leaders for our 4 new core blue economy projects:
  • Growing marine ecotourism – Simon Milne (AUT) & Chris Rosin (Lincoln University)
  • Blue seaweed economy – Serean Adams (Cawthron)
  • Restorative marine economies – Drew Lohrer (NIWA) & Nigel Bradley (EnviroStrat)
  • Indigenising the blue economy – John Reid (University of Canterbury) & Jason Mika (Massey University)
More information about these projects will be made available online in early 2021. See the Blue economy page.

Kudos Awards

Congratulations to Sustainable Seas researchers Jo Ellis, Kura Paul-Burke and Shaun Awatere who were nominated for the Kudos Awards 2020. The Kudos Awards are Aotearoa New Zealand's most prestigious regional science awards, recognising top scientists from the greater Waikato Region and Bay of Plenty. Read more.

Sustainable Seas is on Instagram! 

In our completely unbiased opinion, we work with one of the most photogenic subjects on the planet – the marine environment. We’ve joined Instagram to share beautiful photos of the places our researchers visit, experience and study, and to tell our research stories to new audiences. If you want us to share your image, tag us or message us. Keep an eye out for our interactive quizzes! Follow us.

Ngā mea hira o te rangahau 
Research highlights 

How ‘forests’ can help marine spatial planning

New guidance for marine managers explains how Gradient Forest models – a new ‘classification tree’ technique that predicts species composition in marine environments – can help predict biodiversity hotspots in marine areas where there is little to no available data. Find out more.

Ocean gliders find rivers flow 100km out to sea

Our rivers don't just end at the coast, they can travel much further than previously thought into our oceans, via eddies. For the first time ever, researchers from the Stressor footprints project have tracked these eddies from shore to sea using underwater gliders. In some cases, eddies travelled up to 100km offshore! Read more.

Hawke’s Bay: systems mapping of marine stressors

This week’s webinar (see details later on in this newsletter) about the systems mapping approach to understanding marine stressors in Hawke’s Bay presented the outputs from stage 1 of the Hawke’s Bay regional study.

The outputs – a report, a summary and the maps – are available on the project webpage.
The following reports are now available for viewing/downloading.

Making a new blue economy in Kaikōura

Following the November 2016 earthquakes, researchers from the New blue economy in Kaikōura: a participatory process approach project worked with Kaikōura’s communities and businesses to develop a practical, long-term ’value proposition’ for a sustainable blue economy. This report outlines the key research findings about how to imagine and practice a participatory, blue economy-led regional development. View/download. 

Futureproofing the mussel industry against ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is a potential threat to the growth, condition and survival of the green-lipped mussel and may have implications for the green-lipped mussel aquaculture industry. Our researchers tested 2 mitigation strategies – waste shell and aeration – in field experiments to see how effective they are at mitigating acidification around mussel farms. This report outlines the results and recommendations from this research. View/download.

Best practice tools and processes for risk assessments

What can go wrong? What are the consequences? How certain are we about the chance of this risk happening? Risk assessment supports decision-making about uncertain future events and their consequences for society. A report from the Novel risk assessment tools for EBM project reviews a range of best practice analytical tools and processes that can be used to support risk assessment across a range of problems. View/download.

Research-round up: Aquaculture

We have produced a summary of tools, resources and research projects relevant to aquaculture. These were developed with stakeholders and Māori partners. Some tools or resources are available to use now, others may require further development by users. The research round-up is a living document and more tools, resources and research projects will be added as they become available or active. View/download.
Some of our projects have published research in peer-reviewed journals.

Faster way to assess tidal power potential

Our researchers developed an approach that can rapidly assess potential tidal farm power output using an existing hydrodynamic model. Published in Renewable Energy, this new approach is aimed at rapidly determining the most promising farm sites, sizes and shapes within a region, enabling work with more detailed, realistic and slower models to focus on a smaller number of farms. See below for details of an upcoming webinar about this research. Read the paper.

Shifting trophic architecture of NZ marine fisheries

Researchers from the Ecosystem connectivity project analysed fisheries catch data to investigate changes in community structure, trophic structure and biomass between 1931 and 2015. This research, published in Fish and Fisheries, provides a history of the development of industrialised fishing in New Zealand and ecological baseline information relevant to the implementation of ecosystem-based management. Read the paper.

Measuring isotopes in preserved fish specimens

Researchers from the Ecosystem connectivity project have developed a method for resolving trophic level and food web position using isotope analysis of fish muscle tissue from preserved museum samples. They used this technique to measure how the food web structure of New Zealand’s commercial fish species have changed over the last 80–90 years. Read the paper.

He uiui i a: Leonardo Durante
Interview with: Leonardo Durante 

University of Otago PhD student Leonardo Durante recently submitted his PhD, funded via our Ecosystem connectivity project. In this interview, Leonardo explains his research into the food webs of past and present fish, and how a sea slug inspired him to learn more about life under the sea.

What problem you were trying to solve with your project? Humans have been fishing fish for so long – but we know surprisingly little about them and their histories. I looked at 16 species of fish: What were their food web ecologies like in the past? Is there any difference today, or has it always been like this?
Read the full interview.

Ngā mahinga o nā tata nei 
Recent activities 

Maramataka wānanga: making connections 

The Ngā Tohu te Ao project team hosted their first face-to-face co-development wānanga in Tauranga end of November, which brought together the research team with 3 whānau: Pakirikiri Wananga (Tokomaru Bay, Ngati Porou), Ngati Kuri (Taitokerau), Ngai Tukairangi (Tauranga Moana). 

The team is working with the whānau to adapt existing tools that can support the use of maramataka for their individual projects. Maramataka (lunar calendars/almanacs) are applied by Māori practitioners to inform interaction with the environment and guide ecosystem management practices. 

The purpose of the wānanga was whakahoro to connect the research team and 3 whānau with each other, useful tools and resources, and others around the world in the maramataka space. Read more.

EBM workshop for Marlborough teachers

In November, our researchers Conrad Pilditch, Simon Thrush, Kura Paul-Burke, Steve Urlich and Eric Jorgensen held a 2-day workshop for 8 science/social science teachers from Marlborough Girls’ College. The workshops were to upskill the teachers in EBM and the 7 principles so that they can incorporate EBM into their teaching. Read more.

Learning resource: key marine legislation

To help communicate the complex and fragmented legal framework for marine management in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have produced this graphic to show the key legislation that apply to our marine environment. Anyone can use this resource, but it may be of particularly useful for researchers giving public talks, as well as schools, education and community groups. Please note it is not intended as legal advice and is not exhaustive.

Community empowerment in marine spatial planning and EBM

At the NZGS 2020 Conference (25–27 November), Enhancing EBM practices theme leader Karen Fisher and Policy and legislation for EBM researcher Hamish Rennie presented a 'lessons learnt' discussion session 'Marine spatial planning: ecosystem-based management, indigenous and local community empowerment?' Speakers from all around the world including Australia, North Sea, Hauraki Gulf, Indonesia and Fiji spoke about different perspectives and experiences of ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning. Read more.

Bird of the Year 2020

It was a year for elections! Every year, Forest & Bird run the BOTY competition to raise awareness for our native birds, their habitats, and the threats they face. As a marine research programme, we were always going to vote for a seabird. We officially threw our support behind the toroa (Antipodean albatross). Although the toroa was winning most of the way, the kākāpō swooped in for the crown at the end. Check out our Twitter campaign thread.

Mai i te hunga pāpāho 
In the media 

Ngā kauhau tuihono 
Webinar series 

Our webinars are free of charge, you'll just need to register to join. Head over to our YouTube webinar playlist to view past webinar recordings.
One step closer to a future powered by tidal energy
11am, 3 February 2021

In this webinar, Ross Vennell will present a faster, cheaper approach to initially assess potential tidal farm power output using an existing hydrodynamic model. This research is from our Energy from tidal currents project, which investigated the viability of generating electricity from the strong tidal currents within Cook Strait.
Sign up
Got 2 minutes spare? We’d love your feedback
Our webinar series has been running for a year or so now, and we’re always looking for ways to improve. Tell us what you think in this short survey.

In case you missed it...

A systems approach to understanding marine stressors in Hawke's Bay

Carolyn Lundquist (NIWA), Anna Madarasz-Smith (HBRC), Becky Shanahan (HBRC) and Justin Connolly (Deliberate) discussed systems mapping of two key marine stressors in Hawke’s Bay: sediments from freshwater and loss of benthic structure. This research is part of the Hawke’s Bay regional study, which is focused on implementing ecosystem-based management in a real-world example. Watch recording.

Ngā huihuinga e heke iho 
Upcoming events

13–16 December 2020  –  5th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity
2020 is a significant deadline for both Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Targets and UN Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 14 on the oceans, and is a starting point for 2030 goals and the UN Decade of the Oceans. If you’re heading along to the conference next week, keep your eyes out for Sustainable Seas researchers and alumni who are giving virtual talks and/or poster sessions:
  • Fabrice Stephenson: Cetacean conservation planning: dealing with uncertainty and data deficiencies
  • Carolyn Lundquist: Integrating New Zealand’s marine biodiversity datasets to inform conservation planning
  • Leigh Tait: Assessing kelp bed responses to heatwaves using remote sensing
View the programme.
Launching 8 March 2021 – LEARNZ 2021: Seaweed: an ocean of opportunity!
Did you know that seaweed aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing primary industry? Join us for a virtual field trip as we head to Nelson with LEARNZ for Seaweek 2021, where we’ll discover how communities can benefit from a thriving seaweed sector. Enrol your class today.
9 March – 8 August 2021 – The Unseen: final exhibition
After a reshuffling of dates due to Covid-19, we are pleased to announce the new dates and locations for the final exhibition of The Unseen. Artist and researcher Gabby O'Connor worked with communities and school children to explore the risks associated with environmental and climate change, and how this might affect the way we manage New Zealand’s marine ecosystems. Join us for the final exhibition to be held in Wellington, Tauranga, and more dates and locations to be confirmed. Click here for more details
 
 
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