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Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans

December 14, 2017

Marine Spatial Planning Update

S-276 Conservation and Management Class

The Global Ocean

Graphs Depicting Different Usage Of Marine Space In Our Port Stops

Ship's Log

Current Position
37°19.052’S x 178°02.94’E

Course & Speed
Heading 295°T at 3.9 knots

Sail Plan
Sailing under forestays’l, mainstays’l, mains’l, and the topsail

Sunny with Force 4 Wind from the SE

Souls on Board

As ocean resources gain value to various different groups, a variety of stakeholders are vying for access and control of these ocean goods. Interested stakeholders range from fisherman to recreational users, conservationists, and industries such as shipping and oil acquisition. As the limited oceanic space becomes congested with these different interests, comprehensive planning is needed in order for them to co-exist safely across the marine environment.

This is the defining logic behind marine spatial planning (MSP). MSP is a concept encompassing the planning for use of coastal and marine spaces by various user groups. Within the context of our Conservation and Management course, we define marine spatial planning as the maritime equivalent of land zoning, defining use areas for different stakeholders, with the implication of designating certain areas for marine protection. MSP is extremely difficult to implement due of the variety of stakeholders and their needs, as well as the difficulties of operation and enforcement in a marine environment. Not only that but a marine spatial plan also has to account for coastal land uses that may impact the marine environment, such as agriculture, or timber harvests, which can increase nutrient run-off or erosion.

This complexity can be understood through the example of one type of stakeholders: recreational users. The challenge stems from the fact that even in this one category there are a multitude of subcategories. In a
recreational context this ranges from swimming and scuba diving to jet skiers and boaters. Although categorized in the same group, these two types of stakeholders have needs that are difficult to organize safely. This problem is one seen across the spectrum of MSP stakeholders.

Our census looked at how coastal land use, and marine stakeholders interacted and in what numbers, in the ports of Auckland, Russell/ Bay of Islands, and Napier. This gave us a better sense of the quality of organization, and the factors important in its planning process across various areas of New Zealand.

In Marine Spatial Planning, a key stakeholder to keep in mind is the tourist industry, a cornerstone of many coastal economies. On our last day in Napier, the members of the Seamans were informed that we were to leave early, as there was an incoming cruise ship that needed the port space. We’d been neighboring another cruise ship the day before that had completely dwarfed the Seamans, and were told that it was pretty modest on the cruise ship scale. The incoming vessel allegedly accommodated 5,000 passengers, who would then comprise, for a few days, anyway, one-tenth of Napier’s population.

Plans changed and we ended up staying the night, but being a sailing, science-focused tall ship and being edged out by this floating city was definitely metaphor fodder.  Space—and significant space—is required for certain stakeholders, and within issues of conservation, there is only so much space. While we don’t know exactly what the nature of the cruise was, such a powerful stakeholder is vital to keep in mind, especially when using a communal approach to drafting an MSP.

During our time observing MSP throughout our cruise track in New Zealand,we’ve seen different places are more catered towards a specific usage for their marine areas. For example in Napier, we saw much less designated area for residential use compared to Auckland. This is most likely because Auckland is a bigger city with more tourism, while Napier is known for its shipping industry.

Based on our observations (shown above and below), it is evident that the port in Russell has much more open space and little to no industrial space, which makes sense given that Russell is primarily a small tourist port and anchorage. Compared to Russell, Auckland and Napier are much more industrial ports, with Napier primarily serving commercial cargo vessels and the occasional cruise ship while Auckland is a mixed use port with a lot of commercial traffic. Largely due to their more commercial needs, Auckland and Napier already have a plan for managing the different uses of their oceanic space and are well on their way to comprehensive marine spatial plans.

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