Since the Rena disaster in October 2011, New Zealand has recorded 363 spill-related incidents in our harbours and oceans. Most of the spills have been small; however, the frequency is cause for concern with almost four tonnes of oil spilled in total.

Marine Biologist Professor Chris Battershill at The University of Waikato is urging for more vigilance and awareness. Maritime New Zealand data released under the Official Information Act shows that recreational boats as well as commercial fishing ventures, offshore explorations and refuelling facilities are responsible for the incidents. Professor Battershill states that ‘these continuous pollution events knock out the resilience of the harbour system’.

Improved ocean resilience and governance is central to our Project One Ocean. Our latest work is the proposal to establish an independent policy institute for the pacific and southern oceans, possibly based in Wellington, New Zealand. The primary function of this institute would be to (i) bring together information on our oceans, (ii) connect stakeholder perspectives for constructive discussions and (iii) advocate for the delivery of evidence-based ocean policy advice to government and the general public. Ultimately, the oceans institute would act for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

How you can get involved
We are currently inviting comments on the Draft Discussion Paper 2015/01: Proposal for the Creation of an Oceans Institute. On Thursday, 15 October, the McGuinness Institute will host a round table meeting to discuss feedback. If you are interested in attending this meeting, please email Based on the feedback, we will then work to produce a functional final paper for MPs and other interested parties in November.

About the One Ocean report
On 26 March 2015 the Institute launched Report 10: One Ocean: Principles for the stewardship of a healthy and productive ocean, the major piece of work for Project One Ocean. This report brings together the policy history on ocean management and explores the seascape of New Zealand in the past, the present and the future. It identifies the need for change in the way New Zealand governs its ocean space and the upcoming opportunities and challenges for doing soThe report is published online and is available for purchase in hard copy through our online store.

To learn more about our oceans work and upcoming events, see the Project One Ocean website.