Sail boats moored in the Mapua estuary

The Coastal Environment and the Coastal Marine Area

A complex workstream

The coastal and marine environments workstream is complex and covers many issues, including:

  • Activities and occupancy
  • Ports, port facilities and marinas
  • Marine and estuarine biodiversity
  • Coastal structures, infrastructure and moorings
  • Marine water quality
  • Sedimentation and seabed disturbance

The workstream is also closely linked to other workstreams that are progressing as part of the Tasman Environment Plan work, including:

Tasman Coastal Group

One of the ways in which we are gathering information and feedback on this workstream is through the establishment of the Tasman Coastal Group. The purpose of the group is to bring together a range of people who have a depth of knowledge or broad interests in the coastal marine space, who can provide varied experience, and who can contribute to the development of coastal policy for the Tasman Environment Plan.

The group will provide a source of information to understand coastal users’ needs and desires, act as a sounding board for defining issues and options, and provide a range of perspectives to test potential management approaches when planning provisions are being developed. If you are interested in getting updates on the progress of this group, please get in touch through the contact methods below. You can also view a summary of the notes from the group meetings held to date here.

Background information

In drafting the Tasman Environment Plan for the coastal area Council is required by the Resource Management Act and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement to consider where, how and when development and activities should be provided for within the coastal marine area. To help Council with this planning a number of background reports are being progressed or will be commissioned over the next year or so. The first of these background reports has been completed and is now publicly available.

The report was commissioned with funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries Aquaculture Planning Fund and considers the needs and aspirations of the Aquaculture Industry. The purpose of the report is to provide direction regarding where this significant industry would like to be in the future, as well as identifying what is and isn’t working under the current planning rules. This report will be followed up with a second more in depth report regarding options for aquaculture, once a number of environmental reports have been completed.

Other work Council currently has underway includes workstreams focussing on landscapes, natural character, significant marine habitats, port facilities, structures and infrastructure. Reports associated with these topics will be uploaded to this webpage as they come available.

In the following episodes of the Tasman Environment Plan podcast, TDC Policy Planner Tania Bray talks marine environment and Planner Stephanie Styles talks coastal areas in the Tasman District.

Tasman is home to iconic beaches and unique coastal places

Our coastline stretches for well over 700 kilometres and it’s valued as a place where people live, recreate, earn livelihoods, relax, gather food, and practice cultural activities. It’s likely you have fond memories from time spent along the Tasman District coast. The District is also home to several internationally and nationally significant estuaries and sand flats.

Our marine environment is always changing. It features a diverse range of coastal environments and habitats including deep waters, shallow coastal seas, sheltered estuarine systems, spits, sand dunes, salt marshes, sea cliffs, some high energy beaches, and coastal wetlands. The coast is bordered by a range of land types including national park, a wide range of rural land uses, and some urban and industrial development.

All environments are connected, and many of the pressures on our marine environment are caused by activity on land. The sea is the receiving environment for run-off from land, which often reaches the coast via rivers or streams, and estuaries. This run-off can deposit sediments and other contaminants including nutrients (e.g. fertilisers and effluent), chemicals (e.g. pesticides and herbicides), and bacteria. Overall, contamination appears to be relatively low in Tasman’s coastal waters, but occasional peaks do occur, often following periods of rainfall.

Changes in land use, such as conversion of native forest to other purposes, often lead to increases in sediment loading to rivers and the marine environment. In Tasman, too much fine-grained sediment entering our estuaries is an issue and marine life has suffered. Disturbance by fishing activity has substantially modified soft-sediment habitats on the seafloor. Research has revealed local fish and shellfish stocks are depleted compared to historical levels due to a range of factors. As a council, we cannot limit fisheries activity for fisheries management purposes, but we are able to manage the effects of fishing on the environment for protection of biodiversity.

Managing our coastal and marine environment and development is an important job for council. There are sometimes competing uses and values at play. We want to provide communities, iwi, and industry with the infrastructure and controls that enable their wellbeing and livelihoods, while protecting what is important to us.

The intrinsic values of the marine environment provide a sense of belonging for many New Zealanders. Tasman’s marine areas and their bordering catchments have complex interrelationships that need to be understood and managed, to ensure that their values are protected, restored, or enhanced over time. Tasman District Council works with iwi, communities, industry, and other stakeholders to enable sustainable and appropriate use of coastal and marine environments.

Further resources

Get in touch

Get in touch with our Tasman Environment Plan team at

or phone Tania Bray (workstream lead) on 03 543 7277.

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Snapshots from the District

A small selection of Tasman's iconic beaches and coastal places.