Best practice

Those managing the development of the coastal marine area must walk a fine line between promoting and facilitating the close bond that New Zealanders have with the sea and coastal activities, and preventing overdevelopment that ruins the values for which it is enjoyed.  The coastal environment is a finite and fragile resource, so the development of structures in it should be carefully planned and limited to those which are strictly necessary.

A first step in achieving best practice coastal management for large marine developments is to carefully plan for their location in a strategic manner. This can include delineating port management areas and marina areas in regional coastal plans, with provisions clearly indicating that developments proposed outside the delineated areas will not obtain consent. The recent Supreme Court decision that plan changes must give effect to policies 13(1)(a) and 15(a) of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and avoid adverse effects on outstanding natural landscapes sets a clear precedent in support of this. 2820

There are a number of best practice elements that can be implemented to manage the adverse impacts discussed in the section above on potential environment effects and outlined in the associated summary table. These are outlined below in in the figure below.

Potential Adverse Environmetnal Effects

Best Practice Response

Degreadation of natural coastal landscapes

  • Locate reclamations and structures within the coastal marine area only if they are absolutely necessary and there is no practical alternative
  • Locate reclamations and structures where natural character and landscape values have already been compromised
  • Seek opportunities for restoring or enhancing areas that have been compromised
  • Design reclamations and structures to visually ‘fit in’ with the natural coastal environment – by minimising their size and where possible adopting natural shapes

Damage to marine exosystems

  • Locate marine developments away from ecologically important marine habitats such as salt marshes, shell banks, sea grasses, shellfish beds, mangroves, fish spawning areas and bird roosting, feeding and nesting sites
  • Locate marine developments away from any threatened, at risk or rare species or ecosystems
  • Design marine developments to minimise impacts on natural coastal processes including sediment transport, tidal flows and local currents
  • Minimise shading of marine habitat in areas where mangroves, sea grasses or seaweeds are present
  • Locate and design marine developments to minimise the amount of capital and maintenance dredging required
  • Time dredging operations to minimise disturbance to sensitive marine animals
  • Follow the principles of disposal in the London Convention 1972 Annex III[1] – including considering carefully the characteristics of the material being disposed, the disposal site and method (such as rate of disposal, dilution and dispersal characteristics, other materials already dumped in the area and water characteristics) and the possible effects of the disposal (on marine life, other uses of the sea and options for land-based disposal)
  • Dispose of dredgings on land as a first preference
  • Use clean sand dredgings to replenish local beaches
  • If there is no alternative to disposing of dredgings at sea, ensure that the disposal site is deep enough to avoid any resuspension of sediment in the coastal environment, preferably over the edge of the continental shelf
  • Minimise the number of dumping sites, by identifying a suitable  site which can be used for dumping from a range of dredging activities within a region
  • Undertake frequent monitoring of the site to ensure that sediment is not dispersing outside the site boundaries 2825

Change to coastal processes

  • Avoid reclamations unless there is no practicable alternative and the reclamation will provide significant regional or national benefit
  • Where reclamations occur, minimise their size and consider the shape of the reclamation and materials used to ensure they are compatible with the coastal environment
  • Carefully design reclamations and coastal structures in terms of size, shape and orientation to minimise impacts on natural seawater flows
  • Locate and design marine developments to minimise the amount of capital and maintenance dredging required
  • Where possible, accommodate dredged material within the reclamation, to avoid the need to dispose at sea

Degradation of water quality

  • Carefully  design marinas and canal developments to allow the free flow of tidal water and only site them in well flushing areas
  • Where possible, avoid dredging in areas where there are contaminants concentrated in seabed sediment
  • Use the best available technology to reduce the amount of  sediment released into the water column during construction
  • Adopt environmental management programmes to avoid discharges from marinas into the marine area from ongoing operations
  • Adopt voluntary certification programmes, such as the international Blue Flag accreditation 2828

Disrupting the relationship of tangata whenua with the marine area

  • Work closely with Māori to ensure that developments do not impact on wāhi tapu sites or other sites of significance to Māori
  • Ensure that the development does not obstruct access or adversely impact on kaimoana areas of importance to Māori
  • Ensure that development does not degrade water and sediment quality

Degradation of historic heritage

  • Undertake sufficient research to identify any marine heritage sites in the vicinity of the proposed development area.
  • Locate marine developments, where possible, away from any sites of heritage significance 

Public access and amenity impacts

  • Make provision for public access around the coastal edge and to the marine area wherever possible
  • Provide public access to wharves and jetties unless exclusion can be justified for public health or safety reasons
  • Where public access needs to be excluded, provide for enhanced access elsewhere along the coastal marine area, close to the development site, or around the development site to link up with coastal accessways
  • Apply a no complaints covenants to restrict new activities from complaining about adverse impacts from existing activities - For example, the Auckland District Plan Central Area Section provides that building for accommodation in the Britomart Precinct will be a permitted activity where the site is subject to a no complaints covenant in favour of the Ports of Auckland 2832

  1. Environmental Defence Society Incorporated v The New Zealand King Salmon Company Limited and Ors, SC 82/2013 [2014] NZSC 38


  3. The Blue Flag certification is a voluntary eco-label awarded to more than 4000 beaches and marinas in 48 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean.[1] The certification sets 24 strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information and environmental management, among others. The certification is awarded seasonally and can be withdrawn if the marina fails to meet the criteria. The Landing and Westhaven marinas in Auckland both currently hold a Blue Flag certification.


Last updated at 2:11PM on February 25, 2015