SDG 14 - Life Below Water

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Law of the Sea

UC's Law of the Sea course introduces students to the law of the sea as codified by the 1982 United Nations Convention. Students examine various maritime zones and focus on issues such as sustainable fishing, marine environmental protection and maritime security. Contemporary challenges are explored, including climate change, ocean acidification and managing genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction, a topic subject to on-going negotiations in the UN. The approach Aotearoa takes to managing the marine environment is provided, including Māori perspectives of ocean resources.


Education for Goal 14

The oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface. UC offers a range of course options to equip the next generation in marine and coastal ecosystems for healthy oceans. Students gain a fundamental grounding in ecology, and later study aspects of biology that are useful in applied conservation, such as how ecologists can help to preserve biodiversity. Advanced studies of marine ecology considers how marine species interact with each other and the environment, and explores current issues and processes affecting marine ecosystems within Aotearoa and worldwide.

Environmental Science

Natural Resources Engineering

Water Resource Management

Water and Environmental Systems Engineering


Marine Ecology Research

The Marine Ecology Research Group is affiliated with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). Students focus on field-based, marine ecological research in the nearshore environment. Research projects include larval fish ecology, the ecology of coastal fishes, the effects of wave exposure on settlement and recruitment of habitatforming species, the effects of humans on intertidal platforms, and life history studies on a wide range of invertebrates, algae and seagrass.


Māori and Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous knowledge incorporating the Māori principle of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) in an environmental context is very relevant in Aotearoa. We offer science students a course on basic understanding of Māori and indigenous peoples’ knowledge in such fields as astronomy, physics, conservation biology, aquaculture, resource management and health sciences. The course is about understanding Māori knowledge, how it’s used, where it comes from, and how it can be applied in a modern context in a range of scientific fields.

Towards a Vision for Fisheries

From UC’s School of Mathematics & Statistics, Professor Michael Plank’s mathematical modelling work has had significant impact in industry and government in Aotearoa. Professor Plank is a member of the NZ Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor expert panel. The expert panel considered the future of commercial fishing in Aotearoa, and their report (released February 2021) made recommendations on how to move towards a data-driven approach to fishing for generations to come. Professor Plank’s research on balanced fishing is cited in reports by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and discussed in a forum at the European Union Parliament.