fbpx What You Can Do | LEARNZ

What You Can Do

← Contents: Discover more

We can all help protect our marine areas so they stay healthy for people to enjoy in years to come.


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

Everyone can help protect our marine areas. Visiting marine areas will help you to see their value and learn more about them.

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.

Here are some ways to help you enjoy marine areas and keep them safe for the future.

Sensitive habitats

Find out about the environments you visit and take care of fragile areas such as dunes, mangroves and ancestral lands.


  • Don’t walk on fragile dunes, or let you dog walk on them – sand can easily blow away once plants are removed, and rare seabirds may be nesting there
  • Look after mangroves – they look after you, by catching sediment and are 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 only photos and leave only footprints.


To ensure there is enough fish and kaimoana for people to enjoy for years to come we all need to look after marine areas and follow fishing rules. 

  • Know the rules for the area you are in – remember that there are different rules for different areas
  • Respect rāhui – these are set by local iwi to stop areas from overfishing
  • Large fish are the best breeders so are best released unharmed
  • Take away any rubbish and dispose of it responsibly – rubbish can damage and/or kill marine life
  • Be gentle with any fish that you are going to release
  • You do not have to catch your limit, catch only what you need.

You could investigate what lives in an estuary. These scientists are using metre square quadrats to record species and collect samples. Image: Sustainable Seas Challenge.


It's important to remember that people can cause animals stress so keep your distance and if your walking your dog have it on a leash.

  • Do not disturb wildlife – give them space, use binoculars to watch them
  • Leave your dog at home or keep them on a leash
  • Keep dogs away from seals and sea lions
  • Do not walk in areas where there are burrows for birds like penguins and shearwaters.

Rock pools

When exploring the beach and rock pools only collect empty shells – any live animals will die if removed from their home. Leave things undisturbed.

  • Always turn the rocks back – animals will die if left exposed to the sun
  • Leave rock pool marine life in the water
  • Do not remove seaweed – it is shelter for other life
  • Do not pick up or handle animals that could harm you such as jellyfish, sea anemones, kina, and crabs
  • Make sure you can always see where you place your hands
  • Wear footwear to protect your feet when exploring rock pools and the coastal area.

Look after yourself

The coast and marine environment are always changing. Think about how to keep yourself and others safe. 

  • Protect yourself from the sun – with 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 sea – large, powerful waves can come in without warning
  • Do not explore the beach alone
  • Be aware of where you are and what's around you
  • Stay away from the top of banks or cliffs
  • Do not sit directly under a cliff – rockfalls do happen.

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.

Back at home

We can all do things to help our marine environment, even if we live a long way from the coast. Choosing to buy things that have less packaging, not polluting stormwater and buying seafood caught sustainably are all actions that can help.

Ready for a quiz? Try the What You Can Do interactive activity.


  • 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, and dispose of rubbish properly – reduce reuse, recycle
  • Use less plastic – try not to use things like single-use plastic items, which can easily end up in the sea where they harm animals
  • Don’t pollute stormwater drains – they lead straight to rivers and the sea without being treated, 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 iNaturalist
  • 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.