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Partners join forces for second high-tech marine survey

Detailed 3D images of the seabed in the Western Marlborough Sounds will be brought to the surface as a second high-tech marine survey gets underway in the region.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the Marlborough District Council (MDC) are launching a joint survey in the Marlborough Sounds throughout Pelorus Sound / Te Hoiere, Admiralty Bay, and Te Aumiti / French Pass.

Marine data collected during the survey will be used to update navigational charts for the many commercial and recreational mariners who operate in the area.

The data will also inform environmental management of the sounds, and support MDC and local iwi to make informed decisions around resource management and marine biodiversity.

This is the second survey partnership for LINZ and MDC following the award-winning survey of Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui and Tory Channel / Kura Te Au from 2016 to 2017.

Group Manager of Hydrography at LINZ, Rebecca McAtamney, says working with MDC is an efficient way to carry out the survey.

“LINZ and MDC are able to significantly reduce costs and minimise the amount of time we spend on the water by working together and agreeing on the scope for this combined survey operation,” Ms McAtamney says.

Marlborough Mayor, John Leggett welcomed the survey getting underway.

“Marlborough District Council is excited about the multiple benefits this innovative environmental data will deliver. It will vastly improve our marine spatial planning ability and we will be better informed and able to make the right decisions about the long-term future of the Marlborough Sounds,” he says.

Specialist marine survey companies iXblue and DML have been contracted to carry out the survey. The companies each have a vessel and will work in different survey areas to map the seabed, which is up to 100 metres deep in places.

The survey teams will record information to help scientists understand what the seafloor is made of and identify features that may lie between the surface and seafloor, such as fresh water seeps.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) will provide quality assurance services, and in the later stages of the survey will gather seabed samples for future research from its vessel the Ikatere.

Weather permitting, survey work is scheduled to start in mid-November 2019 and be completed by the end of May 2020 when all temporary tide gauges will be removed, and all vessels will leave the area.

The survey teams are setting up their vessels and installing temporary tide gauges and survey benchmarks in the area.

Data from the Western Marlborough Sounds survey is expected to be submitted to LINZ for review and chart production in September 2020. It will also be made available through the online LINZ Data Service to support wider research into the area’s marine environment.


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