Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Economic, social and biological attributes of two marine reserves within New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-13, 21:37 authored by Rojas Nazar, Ursula A.

Marine Reserves (MRs) are amongst the most common tools used for marine conservation around the world. New Zealand (NZ) has 34 MRs protecting approximately 7.6% of NZ's territorial seas. In NZ the main purpose of MRs is to allow scientific research to be conducted in the absence of human disturbance. The establishment of MRs around the country produces different biological, social and economic effects in the surrounding communities. However, the majority of previous MR studies have evaluated the biological effects of protection and not the social and economic effects. This thesis investigates how established MRs are performing in terms of social, economic, social and biological goals and contributing to society‘s well-being within New Zealand. For this research I conducted research at two MRs. The Taputeranga MR (TMR) was established in 2008, and is the newest MR established in New Zealand. It is located in the Wellington region, on the Wellington south coast, and extends from Princess Bay to Quarry Bay, protecting 8.54 km² of coastal waters. Kapiti MR (KMR), which is one of the oldest MRs in New Zealand, was established in 1992 in the Wellington region, approximately 50 km north of Wellington city. It is located on the Kapiti coast in front of Paraparaumu beach. The KMR covers 20.90 km² of coastal water, divided into two parts; the largest part is 17.50 km² and the smaller part is 3.4 km².   In this thesis I am starting to explore the financial cost of the MRs (chapter 2), where I attempted to estimate all of the costs required to establish a MR. The Taputeranga MR was used as a case study along with an analysis of the management costs for four other MRs. I aimed to find predictor variables across these five MRs to explain differences in their management cost. In addition, I also estimated the displacement cost to fishermen. Results showed that the Taputeranga‘s pre-establishment process cost approximately NZ $508,000, and the establishment process cost approximately NZ $ 354,000. In addition, the average management cost across five MRs per year was around NZ $63,000 year⁻¹. With respect to the predictor variables, the Akaike Information Criterion (AICc) analysis showed that MR size best explains cost, where small MRs are more expensive to maintain than big MRs. The displacement cost was estimated as NZ $22,000 approximately per vessel.  I also researched and examined the social impacts of MRs (chapter 3). The aim of this chapter was to explore the human dimensions of the TMR and KMR and a hypothetical MR as a control area. I used a series of questionnaires with five main groups affected by the establishment of the MRs. Results showed that of the people who conducted activities close to the TMR and KMR, nobody selected either area specifically because there was a MR in the vicinity. With respect to MR knowledge, the majority of people at both MRs and at the hypothetical MR believed they knew what a MR was, however, nobody could provide a correct description of the main reasons for MR designation in New Zealand. Most groups surveyed at KMR indicated that its establishment had not personally affected them. At TMR, all groups believed they had experienced direct (personal) and indirect problems since the establishment of the MR. At the hypothetical MR, the majority of respondents perceived that its establishment would not cause any personal or family problems. I found that respondents at both MRs and the hypothetical MR believed that MRs are a good tool for protecting the environment.  I also develop a framework to understand and estimate MR goods and services by using the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment framework (chapter 4). The aim of this study was to identify and determine use and non-use values of the Taputeranga MR and Kapiti MR. At KMR and TMR I identified eight main value-categories: (1) Commercial fishing benefits from MR, (2) Nature-based tourism, (3) Education, (4) Research, (5) Public recreation, (6) Recreational fishing benefit from MR, (7) Ecosystem health, and (8) Existence – Bequest value. The existence-bequest values (non-use values) were estimated based on the public‘s willingness to pay (WTP) and found to have a mean value of NZ $61.54 at the TMR and NZ $31.45 at the KMR per household/year.  After being exploring cost of MRs, social effects of MRs and MR goods and services, I researched the biological effects of MRs. For this I examined the effect of MRs on rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) biomass and abundance (chapter 5). I investigated how rock lobsters (RLs) (Jasus edwardsii) have responded to the protection afforded by the TMR and KMR by comparing rock lobster Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) between reserve and nonreserve areas. The average CPUE was higher inside both MRs than outside. Also bigger RLs were caught inside both MRs'. In addition, the TMR catches were twice as high compared with historical catches, and the KMR compared with historical catches were 1.93 times higher.  By integrating all these different chapters and methodologies I have been able to provide insights that will help in the future of conservation of MRs, by improving the level of information for better decision-making, improving the communication between decision makers and stakeholders and to build better relationships between researchers and nonextractive users of MRs. Moreover, I provide recommendations that could be useful to include within the current Marine Protected Area Policy and potentially improve it. These recommendations also attempt to minimize the time and costs involved in MRs from the pre-establishment stages, by creating effective and formal alliances between different groups of stakeholders.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Marine Biology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

961303 Protected Conservation Areas in Marine Environments

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Biological Sciences


Bell, James; Gardner, Jonathan; Cullen, Ross