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Challenge boosts protection of biological heritage

Challenge boosts protection of biological heritage

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today launched the Sustainable Seas Ko Ngā Moana Whakauka National Science Challenge and confirmed initial funding of $31.3 million over five years.

The Sustainable Seas Challenge is the fourth National Science Challenge to be launched by the Government and involves multi-disciplinary research across a range of research organisations, including some international institutions. It is hosted by Crown research institute, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and involves Nelson's Cawthron Institute, GNS Science, and the University of Auckland, the University of Canterbury, the University of Otago, the University of Waikato and Victoria University of Wellington.

The Challenge aims to enhance the utilisation of our marine resources within environmental and biological constraints.

To do this, the Sustainable Seas Challenge will focus on:
· research to describe in detail the make-up of our oceans

· developing a better understanding of the dynamics and sensitivities of our ocean and coastal systems

· working towards the effective integrated management of our oceans and coasts that takes into consideration environmental, societal, cultural, Māori and economic concerns and informs governance of marine resources.


Mr Joyce says the Sustainable Seas Challenge has the potential to transform New Zealand into a world leader in sustainable marine economic development.

“This Challenge will build on New Zealand's world-class marine research to allow us to better understand the human-induced and other changes affecting our oceans and the implications of those for our management of marine resources," Mr Joyce says.

New Zealand’s marine jurisdiction covers an area more than 20 times the size of our land area, making it the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world.

"This vast estate supports significant quantities of natural resources, much of which are yet to be explored or realised, but that needs to be balanced against the environmental importance of our oceans," Mr Joyce says.

“Our seas have been an integral part of the lifestyle and culture of generations of New Zealanders and continue to be important for food, recreation and spiritual well-being.

“The research will allow us to develop an ecosystem-based management approach to inform the way we govern and use our marine resources, helping us achieve a balance between the enhanced use of our marine resources and good environmental stewardship that meets the aspirations and rights of our multi-cultural society, including Māori.”

Funding of up to $31.3 million over five years has been approved subject to contract conditions. In addition, CRI core funding of up to $75.5 million is aligned to the Challenge.

Funding was approved by the Science Board following assessment from a panel comprising world-leading experts in a number of fields including ocean, marine, social and economic science.

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