The data layers include distribution models for species such as sharks and rays, corals and sponges, and popular fish such as snapper and reef fish.
“Previously, access to data on marine habitats and species has been fragmented and difficult,” says Jodie Robertson, GIS Analyst at DOC.
“Pulling this project together has meant collating and standardising many years of marine mapping data to make it available in one easily accessible place.”
By loading several map layers at one time, people can compare species ranges and habitats, and visualise where these overlap with protected areas, such as Marine Mammal Sanctuaries and Marine Reserves. DOC will continue uploading existing datasets in the coming months and when new survey data are collected.
These datasets will be useful for many people and organisations – from local government to community groups – as they work for marine protection in their local area.
“DOC is committed to providing easy public access to our marine data, from the latest research to historic surveys,” says Kirstie Knowles, DOC Marine Ecosystems Manager.
“We want to make all this information available for everyone to use – and it will be continually updated with new research, becoming an access point for marine ecosystem data. This should make marine protection decisions more transparent, accessible, and efficient.”
This open data portal is critical to developing a national network of marine protected areas. The project lays the foundation to meet the Te Mana o Te Taiao (The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy) goal of integrated marine management and protection.