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Coasting in Whitianga: NZCS Conference

Coasting in Whitianga: The New Zealand Coastal Society conference

Over 120 coastal planners, scientists, engineers and others gathered for a three-day conference in Whitianga this past week (17-19 November) to discuss all things coastal. The annual conference is hosted by the New Zealand Coastal Society (NZCS).

NZCS Chair David Phizacklea says: “The conference offers experts in many different fields the opportunity to share findings on recent research and to learn about coastal activities around New Zealand. With the Coromandel’s incredible coastline Whitianga was the perfect location for this year’s conference.”

Hot topics during the conference included dune restoration work, coastal hazard planning, climate change and sea level rise. From tsunami modelling of Mercury Bay and implications for hazard and disaster management, to catchment management in the Coromandel, to the ocean’s spiritual influence on surfers, the conference had something for everyone with an interest in our coastal environment.

Keynote speaker Bryce Cooper, NIWA’s General Manager Strategy, kicked off the conference with an informative presentation on aquaculture: “The F-word: farming fish for Gordon Ramsay”. Cooper discussed NIWA’s research on hapuka and the need for New Zealand to continue to build its reputation as a country that provides high-end, environmentally sustainable and socially responsible aquaculture.

Peter Singleton, Environment Waikato’s manager for the Coast, land and wetlands programme, discussed sea level rise from an Environment Waikato perspective. His presentation set the stage for many of the presentations to follow that focused on climate change and the potential impacts of sea level rise on coastal communities and environs.

Conference attendees didn’t just talk about coastal issues they also took field trips to learn about some of the issues facing the local area, including a trip to New Chums Beach to discuss a controversial proposed development.

“We’ve found that the cross-discipline nature of the coastal conference promotes strong collegial relationships that last well beyond the three days of the conference,” Phizacklea says. “Our coastal environment is under numerous pressures. If we’re to be successful in protecting our coasts we all need to work together – something the NZ Coastal Society actively encourages.”

This year’s New Zealand Coastal Society conference was sponsored by Environment Waikato, NIWA, BECA, Thames Coromandel District Council, DHI, MetOcean Solutions Ltd, Tonkin&Taylor, Maccaferri, Ministry of Fisheries and NZ Landcare Trust.


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