Hawke's Bay celebrated World Oceans Day with the launch of a marine improvement research project.

The Hawke's Bay Marine and Coastal Group Research Roadmap was launched by Minister of Fisheries and Napier MP Stuart Nash at East Pier Conference Centre on Friday afternoon.

More than 50 people from the groups and organisations involved in the development of the research roadmap attended the event which was a culmination of 18 months collaborative work by the Hawke's Bay Marine and Coastal Group.

The group includes recreational and commercial fishers, tangata whenua, Fisheries New Zealand, the Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Council science staff.


The roadmap proposed three research areas: fisheries; ecosystems and habitats; and terrestrial and coastal linkages.

Nash said he was involved in the first discussions about the state of the Hawke's Bay fisheries and complimented the group on the plan they had achieved.

Decisions about the future of region's fisheries and marine area would have to be based on facts and research.

"We all want abundant fisheries, so things need to change.

"I know our local fisheries will look different in 30 years.

"We have to be innovative...but as well as being innovative with the gear fishermen use, we also have to be innovative in how we communicate with our industry and the community.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council chief executive James Palmer said he acknowledged the recreational fishers who initially raised their concerns about the state of the fisheries and the response in terms of leadership from commercial fishers who looked at different ways of operating.

Both interests had worked constructively to help develop the research roadmap.

"The conversation has changed to be about the whole marine ecosystem and the impacts on it."

Because different government departments and councils had different responsibilities in the marine and environmental area, "for the foreseeable future, the only way forward is by working together", he said.

Palmer said gaining everyone's cooperation towards the research before it happened had been important, as it freed up the discussion to be about the answers to the solutions rather than a potential debate on how the science was done.

"The real heavy lifting is to come, in commissioning the science and deciding what to do with the results."

Jonathan Dick, general manager of the asset holding company for the Ngāti Kahungunu fisheries settlement, who spoke on behalf of iwi, said the roadmap aligned with the iwi's strategic plan and vision for managing all the impacts, maunga to moana (from mountain to the sea).

"If Tangaroa is abundant, the people will thrive."

The Hawke's Bay Marine and Coastal Group Research Roadmap aims to achieve a healthy and functioning marine ecosystem by improving understanding of this zone.

The group was established following concerns about the localised depletion of inshore finfish stocks and environmental degradation in the Hawke's Bay sea area.

Part of the research would be finding out what effect activities on the land was having on the sea and the subtidal ecosystems and how these might be changing.

Not enough is known about local fisheries, where the common fish species spawn and how they migrate.

The group is planning a citizen science approach to gather information from recreational and commercial fishers and to use traditional knowledge.