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What You Can Do

Tipping Points
The Motion of the Ocean

We can all help protect our marine ecosystems to ensure they remain healthy for future generations to enjoy.

Everyone has a role to play in protecting our marine environments. Getting out and experiencing marine areas will help you to learn more about them and appreciate their value. 

If you are in a Marine Protected Area or Marine Reserve, follow the rules. Leave your dog at home and do not take anything from the area.

The following are some guidelines to help you enjoy your marine environment and keep it safe for the future.

Sensitive habitats

  • Don’t walk on fragile dunes, or let you dog walk on them – sand can easily blow away once vegetation is removed, and rare seabirds may be nesting there
  • Look after mangroves (they look after you, by catching sediment and providing valuable habitat for our sea life)
  • Be aware of seagrass beds – these are fragile habitats and can easily be damaged
  • Do not disturb Māori ancestral areas – all are protected by law
  • Don’t light fires
  • Take photos and leave only footprints.


  • Know the rules for the area you are in – remember, different rules apply to different areas
  • Respect rāhui bans and taiāpure limits – these are set by local iwi to protect areas from fishing
  • Big fish are the best breeders so are best released unharmed
  • Remove any rubbish and dispose of it responsibly – rubbish can damage and/or kill organisms
  • Be gentle with any fish you intend to release
  • You do not have to catch your limit, catch only what you need.


  • Do not disturb wildlife – give them space, use binoculars to observe them
  • Leave your dog at home or keep them on a leash
  • Do not walk in areas where there are burrows for birds like penguins and shearwaters

Rock pools

  • Always turn the rocks back – organisms will die if left exposed to the sun
  • Leave rock pool marine life in the water
  • Do not remove sea weed – it provides shelter for other organisms
  • Learn to recognise possible animal hazards and do not pick them up or handle them – these include jellyfish, sea anemones, kina, and crabs
  • Make sure you can always see where you place your hands
  • Wear protective footwear when exploring intertidal rock pools and the coastal environment.

Shell collecting

  • Collect only empty shells – any live animals will die if removed from their habitat.

Look after yourself

  • Protect yourself from the sun – wear clothes, a hat, and sun block
  • Be aware of the tide and heights of high and low tide – the weather also affects the time and level of the tide
  • Never turn your back to the ocean – large, powerful waves can come in unexpectedly
  • Do not explore the beach alone
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Stay away from the top of banks or cliffs
  • Do not sit directly under a cliff –  rock falls do happen.

Back at home

  • Choose to buy seafood that is sustainable – use the Forest and Bird Best Fish Guide to find out which fish are not at risk
  • Think about packaging, dispose of rubbish properly – reduce reuse, recycle
  • Minimise plastic – try not to use things like single use plastic bags which can easily end up in the ocean where they harm animals
  • Don’t pollute stormwater drains – they lead straight to rivers and the sea, so anything other than rainwater can cause pollution
  • Use water wisely – it is a limited resource
  • Get involved in beach and river clean ups and native planting projects
  • Take part in citizen science projects – such as Marine Metre Squared and NatureWatch
  • Donate to local marine conservation projects
  • Share your knowledge of marine areas – with your whānau, friends and community.


Audio Māori keywords: 

Find out what lives in your local marine area and how you can help protect this ecosystem.

Everyone can help look after our marine areas. Image: LEARNZ.

Getting out and experiencing marine areas will help you to learn about them and appreciate their value. Image: LEARNZ.

Estuaries are great places to investigate to see what lives their and to monitor the health of the marine ecosystem. These scientists are completing samples using metre square quadrats. Image: Sustainable Seas Challenge.

You could help clean up a beach or river in your area like these students from Tiaho Primary, Wairoa, who are cleaning up at Whakamahi. Image: Sustainable Coastlines.

Tipping Points
The Motion of the Ocean