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Tuatara: Volume 28, Issue 1, August 1985

The Future Development of Oceanography in New — Zealand: Scientific Problems, Potential Uses and — International Comparisons *

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The Future Development of Oceanography in New
Zealand: Scientific Problems, Potential Uses and
International Comparisons

Key words: Oceanography, New Zealand, Marine resources, Future problems.

“None of the world's oceans casts such a glamour of adventure over us as the Pacific, none has stirred man's imagination, and none affords more enticing problems to the student.” Wood and McBride (1930).

“The major revolution that has occurred in the geologic sciences during the past quarter of a century is widely recognized. It has reached from the core of the earth to the surface of the Moon and is now spreading to the outer planets. Like all revolutions, the revolution in the geologic sciences has been preceded by a long preparation. As far as the Earth is concerned, it has been truly “global”: it has concerned the solid Earth as well as the oceans, the atmosphere and the ice caps.” Emiliani (1981).

“As time goes on, it becomes clearer and clearer that the development of marine geology has been one of the great scientific themes of the century. We couldn't have predicted it, we couldn't have known that the oceans were young enough and simple enough for the means we had to be adequate—but so it was.”

Sir Edward Bullard shortly before his death in 1980 (Maxwell 1981).

“The risks the explorers of the ocean are running are no smaller than those facing cosmonauts manning orbital labs. Far fewer people have descended to a depth of 5,000 metres, than have gone up to an altitude of 200 kilometres. It is easier to assemble a space lab of units, all but factory produced on the ground, than to build a depth home on the slope of the continental shelf. It is easier to protect oneself from space vacuum and temperatures in the neighbourhood of the absolute zero (−273°C) than to find reliable protection against high pressures and the dreaded “Bends” caused by submerged caissons.” (Anon 1984a).

“Land-living, we tend to take the sea for granted. Making the films on which this book is based was a continual lesson in its immense and unpredictable power. We saw the most costly plans of North Sea oil engineers, the most advanced technology of ocean scientists suffer as much delay and risk as the humble outrigger of Pacific islanders. No man commands the sea.

Yet from earliest days we have struggled with it, learned to cross its surfaces for our profit in trade, and to harvest its resources for food. During the last two decades we have made a huge leap forward in our knowledge of the sea. For the first time this almost unknown element covering seven-tenths of the surface of the globe is being scientifically examined. The excitements of this last frontier of discovery are equal to those of a voyage in space, and far more relevant to our survival.

Our very success is putting the oceans in jeopardy; the dangers of exploitation are already with us. Ultimately we need the waters of the world in order to exist, and we need their fish and minerals and energy for our well-being. Our voyages were timely: this decade—with the conclusion of the world's negotations on the Law of the Sea, the most comprehensive international legislation ever attempted—is likely to be crucial in man's long relationship with the commanding sea”. Michael Gill introducing Francis and Tute (1981).


New Zealand is a remote island nation in the S.W. Pacific. Because it straddles a plate boundary, occupies a large latitudinal spread and is proximate to both Antarctica and the subtropical islands to the north, New Zealand offers a large number of problems in all disciplines of oceanography. Whilst considerable progress has been made in understanding the oceanic environment around New Zealand since the founding of the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute in 1954, much remains to be done. The increasing sophistication of oceanography is making available new techniques to solve the problems in hand. With the increasing world population requiring increased mineral resources and food supplies, the oceans are likely to increase dramatically in importance over the coming decades. This fact is recognised in all the industralized nations (as well as in many Pacific nations) which have been steadily increasing their support of the ocean sciences. Because of its development as an agricultural nation, New Zealand attitudes are still geared more to the land than to the seas. On a per capita basis, New Zealand spending on ocean research is not high compared to that of the industralized nations. In view of its geographic position, the potential of its surrounding seas and the intrinsic interest of the scientific problems offered, a higher profile for the ocean sciences in New Zealand would seem appropriate.

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Apart from Antarctica, New Zealand lies further from its nearest neighbour than any comparable landmass on the earth's surface (indeed New Zealand lies near the pole of the “water hemisphere”—Meincke 1977) and the majority (about two-thirds of New Zealanders) live in urban areas by the sea. It also has a coastline (including harbours and estuaries) in excess of 10,000km (Tortell 1981). Yet paradoxically, New Zealand has developed as an agricultural nation with little interest in the sea apart from recreational boating and the obvious fact that the sea remains the lifeline of New Zealand's overseas trade. The fishing industry has, until recently, remained the domain of individual fishermen making short trips in small boats and the Royal New Zealand Navy is a force of minor naval significance (with a total strength of 2,811 personnel in 1981). However, this situation need not have prevailed. In an interesting comment, the liaison officer of the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen recently stated that, if New Zealand had been developed by Scandinavian fishermen instead of British farmers, it would be a major fishing nation today (Dabrowska 1981). A similar view prevailed at a recent conference on New Zealand's maritime future (Kennaway 1981) in which it was argued that “the notion that New Zealand has a maritime future still strikes us as being rather novel”. Certainly, the declaration of New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (E.E.Z.) in 1977 has had a major effect, particularly on fisheries policies (the importance of which has been argued by Talboys (1981)) but it was the view of the conference that the sea could play a greater role in New Zealand's economy. It should be noted that New Zealand is in the position of being one of the world's smaller states seeking to manage one of the larger E.E.Z.'s (Rumball 1978).

As the first quotation at the beginning of this paper implies, New Zealand is surrounded by an ocean area of immense scientific interest. New Zealand itself straddles the temperate latitudes from 34° 25'S to 47° 16'S but legitimate interests stretch from the Pacific Islands to the north, where our closest neighbours live, to the Ross Sea to the south (i.e. from 15°S to 75°S). Equally, New Zealand oceanographers have pursued scientific interests from the Australian continental slope (152°E) to the crest of the East Pacific Rise (115°W). This huge area is characterized by great geological, hydrological and biological diversity which almost demand scientific attention (cf. Anon 1973; Brodie 1973; Knox 1975; Dell 1976; Westerskov and Probert 1981). Yet, as the then New Zealand Minister of Fisheries stated in 1978, “the waters of the South Pacific are probably the least explored, least studied and most poorly documented of any in the the world” (Bolger 1979).

Two recent workshops have addressed the problem of the development of ocean sciences until the year 2000 (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission 1982; Thiede 1983). Both workshop reports demonstrate the present sophistication of ocean sciences and point out that ocean sciences are likely to continue to expand in much the same way as they have since the Second World War. These reports could well serve as a blueprint for future work. Equally, the recent volumes by Sears and Merriman (1980) and Brewer (1983) have given a wide overview of the development and present status of oceanography. The importance of the oceans generally is well illustrated by the negotiations of the Third U.N. Law of the Sea Conference beginning in 1973 which have been among the most protracted the complex international negotiations ever held (cf. Talboys 1981; Amann 1982, Mann Borgese 1983) and is obvious from reading such popular books as Fleming (1977), Ross (1980), Francis and Tute (1981) and Brown and Crutchfield (1982).

The aim of this article is to focus attention on the oceans around New Zealand as a region of considerable scientific and economic interest which is worthy of much more extensive investigation over the coming decades as New Zealand matures from being a primary agricultural nation. Contrary to the accepted viewpoint, spending on ocean research in New Zealand is not high in comparison with that of the advanced industrial page 16 nations. Because the author is an earth scientist, there is a bias towards his special interests. This is considered inevitable in a multidisciplinary subject but does not imply the lesser significance of other areas of research and development. It is hoped that this article will stimulate discussion on the future of oceanography and on the use of the oceans in New Zealand. Certainly, the Minister of Science appears to believe in the importance of marine science (Tizard 1984).

Geological Setting

From a geological standpoint, perhaps the most important feature of the New Zealand region is that it lies at the boundary of the Pacific and Indo-Australian “plates” (Fig. 1). This plate boundary stretches in an almost straight line from just south of Samoa at about 15°S to the triple junction (i.e. the meeting point of the Pacific, Indo-Australian and Antarctic plates) at about 62°S but varies considerably in character along its length (cf. Cole and Lewis 1981). To the north of New Zealand, the contact of the plates is between ocean crust in which the Pacific Plate is subducted beneath the Indo-Australian Plate along the Tonga-Kermadec Trench. To the south of New Zealand, there is mirror image with the Indo-Australian Plate subducting under the Pacific Plate along the Puysegur Trench. In between is a region of considerable complexity. On the eastern side of the North Island, the ocean crust of the Pacific Plate is subducted obliquely beneath the continental crust of the North Island along the Hikurangi Trough. In the South Island, the Alpine Fault is a transform fault where the two plates move laterally relative to one another. This entire plate boundary region is seismically active with volcanism occurring at intervals along (or behind) the plate boundary from the central North Island northwards. Behind the Tonga-Kermadec Ridge to the north of New Zealand lies a number of back-arc basins such as the Lau Basin which are relatively shallow (up to 4km deep) oceanic basins of considerable complexity. Perhaps the most important geological feature of the New Zealand region is the tectonism resulting from the collision of the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates. As a consequence, the region is geologically youthful, active and complex.

A second important geological feature is the Campbell Plateau. Present evidence suggests that this part of the New Zealand continental margin is a remnant of the former continent of Gondwanaland. Together with the Chatham Rise and much of mainland New Zealand, it split away from West Antarctica (in the vicinity of the present Ross Sea) about 81 m.yrs. ago (Molnar et al. 1975; Grindley and Davey 1982; Kennett 1982; Roser 1983; Korsch and Wellman in press). The ocean spreading centre dividing these two landmasses is the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge and spreading has been intermittent. The Campbell Plateau, with an area of approximately 600,000km2, is a major feature of the New Zealand continental margin and one where active oil exploration is occurring.

A third feature follows from the splitting of the Campbell Plateau from Antarctica. According to the theory of plate tectonics, the generation of new ocean crust at a zone of divergence (in this case at the crest of the East Pacific Rise — Pacific-Antarctic Ridge) implies that ocean crust must be subducted at a zone of convergence (in this case at the Indian-Pacific plate boundary). In between these two zones lies a huge region, the Southwestern Pacific Basin, with an area of about 10 million km2 which makes it slightly bigger than Australia and the largest physiographic province in the New Zealand region. The ocean floor generated at the crest of the East Pacific Rise — Pacific-Antarctic Ridge may be likened to a conveyor belt moving westwards to New Zealand at a speed measured in cms per year. As the crust moves from the ridge crest, it becomes older and gets deeper, from depths of less than 3,000 m at the ridge crest where it has zero age to in excess of 5,700 m in the Samoan Basin where some of the oldest ocean crust (about 100 m.yrs old) in the Pacific occurs (Heezen and Fournari 1975). The Southwestern Pacific Basin then is an “intra-plate” region of great geological stability.

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Fig. 1. Map showing the plates of the Pacific region. Full arrows represent the rate of plate movement (cms.yr1) with respect to the body of the earth and half arrows the relative movement (cms.yr1) between adjacent plates at major transform faults. Spreading axes are shown as double lines, transform faults as single lines and subduction zones as barbed lines with the barbs pointing away from the downgoing plate. New Zealand's position at the boundary between the Indo-Australian and Pacific plates is well illustrated in this diagram. Map reproduced from Moore (1982, Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Map showing the plates of the Pacific region. Full arrows represent the rate of plate movement (cms.yr1) with respect to the body of the earth and half arrows the relative movement (cms.yr1) between adjacent plates at major transform faults. Spreading axes are shown as double lines, transform faults as single lines and subduction zones as barbed lines with the barbs pointing away from the downgoing plate. New Zealand's position at the boundary between the Indo-Australian and Pacific plates is well illustrated in this diagram. Map reproduced from Moore (1982, Fig. 1).

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In addition to the tectonic processes which have controlled the evolution of the New Zealand region is the influence of Pleistocene glaciations. It is now believed that sea level was approximately 120 m below its present level 15,000 — 20,000 yrs ago (Lewis 1974) as a result of ice being locked up in the polar ice-caps. These glaciations also led to large-scale glacial scouring on the South Island of New Zealand. With the rise in sea level, New Zealand developed a drowned coastline characterized by the occurrence of fiords, estuaries, rias and lakes.

The New Zealand offshore region then is a function of its geological history. New Zealand has a large and varied continental margin from the Campbell Plateau, a continental remnant of Godwanaland, to the more restricted active areas such as the East Coast Fold Belt of the North Island. The various offshore islands, either continental remnants (such as the Chatham Islands on the Chatham Rise and the Bounty Islands, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands and Campbell Islands on the Campbell Plateau) or volcanic islands (such as the Kermadec Islands to the north of New Zealand), ensure that New Zealand has a large Exclusive Economic Zone which, at 4.05 million km2, is approximately 15 times the land area of New Zealand and is the fourth largest in the world (after the U.S.A., Australia and Indonesia, Anon 1982). The great diversity of settings in the New Zealand region (with estuaries, fiords, plateaux, banks, saddles, troughs, trenches, and basins all present) and the large E.E.Z. which New Zealand now enjoys are therefore a result of the complex geological history of the entire S.W. Pacific region. These features give great scope to the marine geoscientist.

Sediment Distribution

Because of the tectonic activity of the region, New Zealand is characterized by mountain building and rapid erosion. Adams (1980) has shown that these two features, tectonic uplift and erosion, are in approximate equilibrium in New Zealand at about 600 × 109 kg/yr and that the offshore deposition of sediment is about 580 ± 110 × 109 kg/yr. This input of terrigenous sediments into the New Zealand continental shelf is therefore high but variable. However, this sediment budget has been in approximate equilibrium only during the Holocene. There was an enormous sediment input during the glacial low-stands of sea level which occupied most (ca. 80%) of the Quaternary (cf. Griggs et al. 1983).

The highest sediment discharges from New Zealand are off the west coast of the South Island and the east coast of the North Island (the latter may, in part, be in the result of “farming” Tertiary mudstones) (Crozier et al. 1980; Griffiths 1981, 1982). Areas such as the middle and outer continental shelf off Otago — Canterbury and Waikato — Taranaki, on the other hand, are characterized by low inputs of terrigenous sediments and occurrence of relict sediments (Carter 1975). Biogenic sands and gravels also dominate the areas to the north and south of New Zealand which are starved of terrigenous material. Because of the role of bottom currents, particularly storm-dominated currents, in reworking bottom sediment in parts of the continental shelf, this topic has become important in New Zealand (Carter and Heath 1975; Carter and Herzer 1979).

A proportion of the terrigenous sediment deposited on the continental shelf is ultimately channelled into the deep-sea basins by means of channels such as the Hikurangi Trough and Bounty Trough. As a result, sediment thickness decreases systematically across the Southwestern Pacific Basin away from New Zealand, reflecting the source of the sediment. This is well illustrated in the sediment isopach map of the region (Ludwig and Houtz 1979). Adams (1978) has demonstrated that this decrease in sedimentation rate with distance from source is exponential. Many sediment parameters such as colour, grain size, transition element content, ferric/ferrous ratio, manganese micronodule and manganese nodule abundance are related to sedimentation rate and therefore vary systematically across the Southwestern Pacific Basin away from New Zealand (Glasby 1983). Because of its size, remoteness from major landmasses page 19 and occurrence beneath the Carbonate Compensation Depth (C.C.D.), sedimentation rates in the Southwestern Pacific Basin are amongs the lowest encountered in the World Ocean (of the order of mms/103 yrs), particularly in the far eastern sector of the basin. In a recent paper, Glasby (1983) has suggested that this basin can be regarded as a huge natural laboratory for studying variations in sedimentation process over large distances of the ocean floor unimpeded by geological perturbations. The importance of deep-sea studies should not be underestimated. Deep-sea sediments, for example, consitute 50% of the surface area of the planet and Broecker (1978) has defined the deep sea as “the world's largest wilderness area”. The impact of future developments, such as deep-sea mining and subseabed disposal of high-level nuclear waste, demand that we pay more attention to these poorly known but intrinsically interesting areas.

A corollary of the youthful geology of New Zealand (coupled with European landuse practices) is coastal erosion and accretion. During the past century, 56% of the open, exposed coastline of New Zealand has remained static, 25% eroded and 19% accreted (Gibb 1979). This coastal instability poses severe problems for coastal land use in certain localities and has led Gibb (1982) to develop the technique of coastal hazard mapping to help prevent the unnecessary loss of property. The wave climate of New Zealand has been mapped by Pickrill and Mitchell (1979) which shows in particular that the west and south coasts of New Zealand are exposed, high energy shores. The coastal resources of New Zealand have now been mapped in considerable detail (Tortell 1981) which is extremely useful in the development of any coastal management plan. The coastal zone is the most fragile part of the ocean system and American experience emphasizes that degradation of this zone takes place when development becomes more important than conservation (Murphy 1983; Pilkey 1983). Perhaps the most useful review of the problems of the New Zealand coastal zone has been given by Kirk (1980). It should be noted that New Zealand has 301 estuaries with a mean separation of 32km (McKay 1976). Estuaries therefore make up a significant part of the New Zealand coastline and are an important research topic in themselves.

Because of the large latitudinal spread of the region under consideration, sediment type is also influenced by the productivity of the overlying ocean waters (see on). Thus, the Circumpolar region is characterized by the presence of diatomaceous oozes compared to the red clays encountered in the low productivity temperate latitudes of the South-western Pacific Basin. Because the Carbonate Compensation Depth for the S.W. Pacific (the depth below which calcareous tests dissolve and are absent in the sea floor) lies at about 4,300m (Berger et al. 1976), sediments in many of the back-arc basins of the Indian plate to the north of New Zealand as well as slope and plateaux regions, such as the Challenger Plateau, are predominantly calcareous. Coral reefs can occur north of about 35°S (Wells 1957) and are therefore encountered in most of the subtropical islands of our nearest neighbours.

Finally, because of the volcanicity which stretches from the Central North Island of New Zealand to Samoa, wind-transported volcanoclastic debris is found in offshore sediments and can, in favourable cases, be observed over 1,000 km away from the source. Because of the direction of the prevailing winds, this is predominantly to the east of the volcanic centres. Kennett (1981) has mapped the distribution of abundant volcanic glass in the S.W. Pacific and commented that discrete tephra horizons occur where the apparent accumulation rate is greater than 100 mg/cm2/1000 yr in the 88-11μm fraction. In addition, aeolian transport of dust (principally quartz) from the Australian deserts is an important component of S.W. Pacific sediments (Glasby 1971; Thiede 1979). Prospero (1981) has estimated the average aerosol deposition rate in the Pacific Ocean to be 370 mg/cm2/1000 yr but has also commented on the dearth of data for this ocean.

For the S.W. Pacific, no quantitative estimate of the inputs of riverine, aeolian, volcanogenic, authigenic and biogenic components to either shelf or deep-sea sediments could be made at present (cf. Barron and Whitmann 1981). Similarly, no assessment of page 20 the impact of these inputs on the mineralogy or geochemistry of shelf or deep-sea sediments is available. The ultimate nature and origin of both shelf and deep-sea sediments around New Zealand therefore remains largely unknown, although preliminary attempts to interpret the origin of deep-sea sediments in geochemical grounds have been made (Glasby et al. 1979). Understanding the impact of these processes remains a major problem for the future.

Marine Minerals

The distribution of marine minerals around New Zealand has been reviewed by Katz and Glasby (1979) and Glasby (1982a).

Of the near-shore minerals, aggregate, ironsands and gold appear to have only a limited potential in New Zealand. Offshore aggregate, with local exceptions, remains generally uncompetitive with regard to its onshore counterpart. Ironsands do occur offshore but are generally of lower grade than the beach and dune deposits onshore and are not considered to be of significant economic interest. Similarly, gold off the mouth of the Clutha River is unlikely to be economic, although gold deposits off the west coast of the South Island are currently attracting interest. All these minerals suffer in part from the problem of higher recovery costs of offshore compared to onshore deposits.

Of considerably more interest are the Chatham Rise phosphorite deposits. In 1982, New Zealand imported over one million tonnes of phosphorite at a cost of about $107 million and its present sources of this mineral (Christmas Island and Nauru Island) are being depleted. The Chatham Rise therefore deserves serious attention as a possible source of fertiliser (Cullen 1979, 1984). At present, the deposit is being assessed by NZOI in cooperation with West German interests. Since 1975, there have been three cruises of R.V. Tangaroa, one of R.V. Valdivia and one of R.V. Sonneto examine the distribution and economic viability of these deposits and there appears to be at least 100 million tonnes of phosphorite nodules present. Before mining can occur, however, there needs to be further prospecting, testing of mining systems, testing of the agricultural worth of the deposits and environmental studies of the possible impact of mining on the benthic fauna and fisheries of this productive area. This could take a decade. The Chatham Rise phosphorites then represent the most promising economic mineral offshore, although, as Heath (1980) has noted, the commercial exploitation of offshore phosphorite deposits is presently limited by large onshore reserves and the patchiness of most offshore deposits.

Because of their extremely slow growth rates (mm/106 yrs), manganese nodules occur in highest abundance in regions of the ocean floor away from New Zealand where sedimentation rates are low. For this reason, nodules occur in high abundance (> 20 kg/m2) in parts of the Southwestern Pacific Basin. The distribution of these deposits in the northern sector of the Southwestern Pacific Basin and in the Samoan Basin was studied during two cruises by R.V. Tangaroa in 1974 and 1976 (Glasby et al. 1980) and in the far eastern sector of the basin by R.V. Sonne in 1981. As a result, it has been estimated that perhaps 20% of the basin is covered by high abundances of nodules and of the order of 1010 tonnes of nodules are present there. In the northern sector of the Southwestern Pacific Basin, dense deposits are only encountered some 1,800km from the base of New Zealand continental slope. Because the northern sector of the basin lies beneath the low productivity, subtropical anticyclonic gyre, there is only minimal enrichment of elements such as Ni and Cu in the nodules as a result of biogenic processes. The grade of these nodules (% Ni + Cu + Co) is therefore generally less than 1 % and the nodules do not appear to be economic. Future attention should therefore be focussed on the more southerly latitudes where productivity influences are apparent and nodule grades higher. In addition, Exon (1983) has reported that nodules from the equatorial S. Pacific have much higher grades and are therefore worthy of further investigations. It should be emphasized, however, that the Southwestern Pacific Basin nodule field is huge and that prospecting has taken place only at a reconnaissance level. Much remains to be learned of the genesis of these deposits.

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With the discovery of hydrothermal vents and mounds in the crest of the Galapagos Ridge Crest in 1977 by means of submersibles, metalliferous sediments have become a key project in marine minerals research over the last few years in a number of countries (U.S.A., France, Germany, U.K.). In Germany, for instance, three Geometep cruises of R.V. Sonne have been undertaken to explore the crest of the East Pacific Rise and Galapagos rift in considerable detail. In New Zealand, two cruises of R.V. Tangaroa have been made to search for metalliferous sediments in the Lau Basin and Havre Trough, the so-called back-arc basins. Relatively little work has been carried out in this type of environment but it appears promising. So far, hydrothermal manganese crusts have been discovered at two sites 500 km apart on the western flanks of the Tonga-Kermadec Ridge (Cronan et al. 1982) and the central rift of the Lau Basin looks to be a promising zone for metalliferous sediment occurrence. Futher cruises to the Fiji Plateau have taken place as part of the Anzus Tripartite Programme to help establish the distribution of these deposits on a regional scale (Brocher et al. 1983). Apart from their intrinsic scientific interest, discovery of these deposits will help in confirming tectonic models of the S.W. Pacific region and in formulating theories of the genesis of landbased ore deposits, a topic which is being revolutionized by such discoveries. Because of its geographic position, New Zealand can play a leading role in such a project.

Geochemical studies of both marine sediments and minerals (particularly manganese nodules) have received increasing attention over the last decade. These have been reviewed by Glasby (1982b). In spite of considerable effort, our knowledge of geochemical processes in the S.W. Pacific is still sparse and much could be achieved in this field.

Physical Oceanography

Over the past quarter of a century, physical oceanography in New Zealand has concentrated on establishing the principal patterns of currents around New Zealand using the classical hydrological techniques of salinity and temperature measurements of sea water to determine geostrophic flow. These investigations have revealed the presence of major fronts, the principal areas of upwelling and eddies. Seasonal and long-term variations in the salinity and temperature of New Zealand offshore waters have also been mapped and studies on the hydrology of bays, inlets and fiords have been undertaken. General properties of the tidal regime around New Zealand have been documented and the occurrence of tsunamis around the Pacific and their likely impact on New Zealand evaluated. Nonetheless, whilst the main current systems are largely known, there remains much to be learnt about their spatial and temporal variability, on scales ranging from cm and sees to thousands of km and tens of year's and their relationship with driving forces such as meteorological conditions (cf. Heath 1985).

For the future, work is likely to concentrate on shelf circulation around New Zealand using satellite remote sensing techniques (cf. Barnes et al. 1984) as well as direct current measurements (using moored current meters and remotely tracked drifting buoys). The hydrology of estuaries, sounds and fiords is also likely to attract increasing attention. Numerical models of circulation patterns will continue to be developed and more work will be directed towards climatological studies (in conjuction with the Meteorological Service). Much of the physical oceanography in the future is likely to form part of multidisciplinary projects such as productivity or sediment transport studies. The aim of all these observations is, of course, to achieve an understanding of the physical processes involved so that ultimately, given relatively few observations, the main motions of the seas and oceans in the New Zealand region can be predicted.

It should be emphasized that, simply by virtue of its geographic position, New Zealand has much to offer in the study of physical oceanography. For example, it lies page 22 within striking distance of a number of major hydrological features such as the Convergences (i.e. Antarctic, Subantarctic, Subtropical, mid-Tasman and Tropical), the deep western boundary current and the Circumpolar Current. The depth range of the ocean floor around New Zealand (extending to greater than 10,000 m in parts of the Tonga-Kermadec Ridge) means that all ocean water masses are represented. In addition, Antarctica is one of the major influences on global climate and New Zealand is one of the few countries well placed to study the hydrological effects of this, namely the formation and migration of Antarctic Bottom water (AABW). In particular, the flow of the AABW through the Southwestern Pacific Basin from Antarctica on its way to the equatorial Pacific is of considerable interest in as much as it transports 12-15 × 106m3 sec−1 of water at depths below 2 km to the north and represents one of the major water masses in the New Zealand region. The effects of this current on the ocean floor have attracted the interests of sedimentologists and marine minerals experts alike. Lonsdale (1981) has recently written a major paper on the influence of this current on sediment characteristics in the Samoan Passage and it would be of considerable interest to do similar work in the Southwestern Pacific Basin.

One of the principal problems in physical oceanography today is the increasing sophistication necessary to solve the problems of water movements with time, as the spatial and temporal resolution of water mass movement is improved. Arrays of current meters with associated meteorological instruments or the use of CTD meters are very expensive to deploy and this is a major limitation to their use in New Zealand. In the North Atlantic, several large programmes have been undertaken on an international basis because of this and New Zealand has also participated in joint projects with U.S. groups, particularly studying the Circumpolar Current. One can confidently predict that such international cooperative projects will continue in the S.W. Pacific because of the intrinsic interest of the region. Understanding these currents on a far smaller scale than has been possible before is likely to be one of the major thrusts of physical oceanography over the coming decades.


“The basis of all biosphere function is primary productivity, the creation by photsynthetic plants of organic matter incorporating sunlight energy” (Leith and Whittaker 1975). This parameter has now been mapped for the World Ocean (Leith and Whittaker 1975). It is a precise, scientific term not to be confused with the production (or more commonly the fisheries production) of the ocean which is more relevant to the layman. The difficulty of obtaining a moderately accurate determination of primary productivity in the ocean is, however, well known (Fogg 1975; Carpenter and Lively 1980).

In 1980, the National Research Advisory Council Commercial Marine Fisheries Working Party Report recommended that the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute should “provide data for primary productivity and transfer through the phytoplankton and zooplankton and the Fisheries Research Division from zooplankton through the fisheries”. It further suggested that NZOI would require a team of 12 to make a substantial impact of the problem. This recommendation has led to some reorientation in the direction of NZOI and was one of the factors influencing the merger with Freshwater Division, Taupo, in 1982. The thesis appears to be that the fisheries potential of the New Zealand region is related to primary productivity and that ultimately a model can be developed to link the two parameters which can be used to predict fisheries potential. The situation is, however, much more complex.

Perhaps the most cogent arguments on this topic have been presented in a paper on upwelling by Wooster (1981) entilted “An upwelling mythology”. In this paper, Wooster defines upwelling as it might have been 20 years ago as

“Upwelling is a coastal process whereby cold, nutrient-rich bottom water is brought to the surface. Vertical speeds are of the order of 10−1 cm/s, and the vertical motion is caused by the local winds, as page 23 demonstrated by Ekman. Upwelling causes high productivity leading to large quantities of fish. Upwelling research should be supported so that fishermen can catch more fish”.

He then goes on to look critically at this statement and shows that it is no longer valid. For instance, upwelling is not always beneficial to fisheries and the onset of upwelling at the wrong time can have a harmful effect on recruitment success. Specifically, it is worth quoting his comment on the effect of upwelling research on fisheries.

“But proposals for such research nearly always refer to the potential benefit for fisheries. Let us look critically at what that benefit might be. It will presumably not involve increased production of fish in the well known upwelling areas such as those off California, Peru, Mauretania, or Namibia. That is, the research is unlikely to increase the rate of carbon fixation or the efficiency of energy transfer through the food web. Nor is the discovery of new upwelling areas likely to lead to the development of new fishing grounds. One might argue that on occasion a result of upwelling research might be the catching of less fish. That is, one might hope that a product of such research would be a better understanding of the relation between variations in upwelling location, timing, and intensity and the inter-annual variations, in year class strength. One might then occasionally forecast poor recruitment that would require restriction of the fishery.”

Wooster also comments on the early history of upwelling research when in 1949,

“The field work of the California Co-operative Oceanic Fishery Investigations (CalCOFI) began. The methods available then for studying unpwelling were limited to classical water bottle and bathythermograph surveys repeated at monthly intervals throughout the year. The scales of variability were little appreciated in the early years of the program. For example, estimates of upwelling were attempted from the vertical displacement of isotherms from one month to the next. The first anchor stations then showed that changes over a few hours could be as great as during the whole month. Distributions in space were also found to be patchy and discontinuous. No methods were available then — or now — for direct measurement of the vertical component of velocity, and the methods available then — and now — for measuring the horizontal components were incompatible with such an extensive survey”.

Finally, Wooster states that $US 20 million has been spent in the U.S.A. on upwelling research but that there is no evidence of direct financial benefit in terms of better fisheries management.

It is now necessary to look in more detail at the problems involved. Perhaps the best articles on this topic have been written by Cushing (1971, 1975). Cushing (1975) opens his book with the statement “in general, samples in the sea have been taken once (or twice) a month, so if the outburst in the spring lasts two, three or four months it can only be barely described; if the plants or animals increase in numbers by an order of magnitude or more, the cycle appears to be well described with only a few samples and this appearance of accuracy is deceptive”. It is clear from Cushing's work that, in spite of intensive effort, the link between primary productivity and fisheries has not yet been established in a usable way. The reasons for this can perhaps best be understood by reference to the statistical work of Steele and Henderson (1977) on plankton patches in the northern North Sea in which they state that “the critical scales, at our present level of knowledge and technique, appear to be the meso-scales of the order of kilometres and days, rather than the very fine structure of yearly cycles over large ocean areas. Data collected, traditionally, at positions 10-100 km apart and at weekly or monthly intervals, with considerable averaging, may show certain accepted features such as the progressive change in nutrients, chlorophyll and zooplankton dry weight during the spring outburst. The problem is that the raw data show such great variance that it is often too easy to construct simulation models which lie within the broad limits of these data”. In other words, the great variability in ecological data mentioned by Steele and Henderson means that adequate sampling in both space and time is impossible without very extensive sampling programmes (cf. Cassie 1959). This problem has been discussed by Steele (1974). In fact, the seasonal variability of nutrient levels in the oceans has been known for a long time. Cooper (1933), for example, demonstrated the monthly variation of silicate, phosphate and nitrate levels in surface and bottom waters at standard stations in the English Channel. These nutrients all showed a 10-fold variation in concentration in the surface waters throughout the year. Without such repeat sampling, the significance of any nutrient data would have to be treated with reservation (cf. Southward 1980). Similarly, Tont (1976) has shown that on average three major blooms account for 85% of each year's diatom biomass off the coast of California (cf. Small and Menzies 1981). Munk and Wunsch (1982) have characterized page 24 physical oceanography as a “century of undersampling”. Undersampling would certainly be a feature of any New Zealand programme to study productivity. These problems of sampling in the sea have been discussed at length by Kelley (1976).

Another way of looking at the logistic problems involved comes from a consideration of the area of New Zealand's E.E.Z. (4 × 106 km2). Assuming that 1,000 hydrocasts were collected at 6 depths (6,000 water samples), this is equivalent to one hydrocast per 4,000 km2) taken at one point in time. Such a sampling interval is so wide as to be almost meaningless. A corollary of this then is that sampling can be carried out only in limited areas over limited time periods. Further, chemical analysis (including nutrients, 14C uptake, chlorophyll concentrations) are far more time consuming than standard hydrological measurements (salinity, temperature). There are, however, problems even in sampling limited areas. The International Biological Programme (IBP) “Proposals for a Programme on the Productivity of Marine Communities” (1964) states that “the foundation of the programme would be the repetition of sampling throughout the year with special attention to periods of rapid change such as the spring outburst of phytoplankton in temperate regions”. From these comments, it is clear that limited sampling programmes cannot hope to solve the crucial question of fisheries management, namely predicting the individual year class of the fishery involved. In this respect, it is worth considering the scope of programmes such as Jonsdap ′76 in the North Sea (Lenz et al. 1980) or in the Celtic Sea (Fasham et al. 1983) which are necessary to obtain meaningful results. Southward (1980) has shown that a 55-year sampling programme in the western English Channel has been necessary to begin to understand fully the oceanographic influences on fisheries there.

A second problem is the complexity of the food web and competition therein. Suffice it to say, that, of the 15,000 million tonnes of carbon taken up into the oceans per year by phytosynthesis, about 10% is zooplankton and 1 % fish. The maximum fish yield of the oceans therefore is about 150 million tonnes (Barton 1977). Yet, this food web from phytoplankton — zooplankton — fish is complex and many pathways are involved. A simple relationship between fish stocks and plankton abundance (and much less nutrient values) does not therefore exist (cf. Ryther 1969; Cushing 1971; Rounsefell 1971; Dickie 1975). On the Campbell Plateau, Clark (1982) has shown the complex feeding relationships of seven fish species and Mills and Fournier (1979) have shown clearly that no simple correlation exists between primary production and fish catch. Similar effects have been demonstrated for the Plymouth fish stocks (Cushing 1961; Southward 1980). Cushing and Walsh (1976, p. 281) have commented on “our general lack of understanding of how plants are transformed into fish, for remarkably little is known of this grey area of the dynamics of secondary production and food chain efficiency”.

An interesting example of this is given by Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR 1970) which states

“Monitoring on an ocean-wide scale of such parameters as Chlorophyll a, C14 uptake, and zooplankton biomass have been much over emphasized in their direct application of fisheries. A number of examples were discussed to emphasize that application to primary and secondary production data differed very considerably from fishery to fishery.

During the recent Meteor work in the region of Cabo Blanco, a recently upwelled parcel of water, rich in nutrients, was observed to develop a very strong bloom of a Phaeocystis like alga. Subsequently, no grazing herbivores developed, probably because few herbivore species are able to utilize these chainform phytoplankton. In an ocean-wide chlorophyll-a monitoring system such patches would be difficult to assess without additional observations. Similar experiences have been noted off Peru where the Engraulis fishery does not correspond with regions of strongest upwelling, and off south West Africa where the Spanish distant-water trawler fleet has been observed far from upwelling centers, while in the northern Pacific Ocean it has been found that there was no direct relationship between the north Pacific spring bloom and the high seas salmon distribution.”

A third problem is that the New Zealand climate is characterized by alternate high and low pressure systems crossing the Tasman Sea so that steady state conditions are never attained. Instantaneous measurements can therefore never give an indication of average page 25 conditions. For example, Cushing (1971) states that, in the Gulf of Panama, the surface temperatures, the reduction of which indicates upwelling, are inversely related to wind strengths from the north 4 days earlier! This indicates the importance of meteorological events on the problem being studied.

At present, the New Zealand effort in productivity research is being directed towards the west coast of the South Island where there is a substantial fishery of the deep-water species, hake and hoki (e.g. Bradford 1983; Chang 1983). 17,806 tonnes of hake were caught in this region in 1977 and 13,968 tonnes of hoki in 1981-1982 (Patchell 1981, 1982); the hoki catch is highly variable due to various fishing restrictions etc. Yet, these fishing areas have been found and exploited without any knowledge of ocean productivity. More importantly, the depth range of these fish (hake 600-800 m, hoki 10-900 m) and their migratory nature would suggest that a simple relationship between surface productivity and fish abundance would not be expected.

Perhaps the most important species is squid which had an annual catch of 11,424 tonnes for the west coast of the South Island for the period 1981-82. However, the Japanese fishermen who fish the area locate the squid at fronts (or thermal discontinuities) by means of temperature measurements (cf. Roberts 1979). Again, a simple relationship between productivity and the size of the squid year class would not be expected.

In fact, the general pattern of productivity in the New Zealand region has been known for some time (cf. Bradford and Roberts 1978) and the occurrence of phytoplankton blooms off the west coast of the North Island reported over 20 years ago (Cassie and Cassie 1960). Yet in reading the fisheries literature, one is struck by the almost complete absence of reference to ocean productivity. Indeed, productivity measurements appear to have been used only once (Francis and Fisher 1979) to estimate the fisheries potential of the New Zealand deep-water region, a calculation which was intended only as a “guestimate”. Paul (1983) also mentioned productivity in the introduction of this paper on coastal demersal fisheries. In discussing the reasons for the collapse of fisheries worldwide, Francis (1979) noted that, in most cases, this is due to over fishing rather than to natural effects. This is now widely recognized by commercial fishermen in New Zealand (cf. Stuik 1980). Future research would therefore seem to demand more comprehensive studies of the fish themselves (abundance, biology, age structure, feeding patterns etc.), better management (preventing overfishing) and perhaps larval studies (Crossland 1982) rather than productivity studies if either increased output or conservation strategies are required (cf. Edwards and Hennemuth 1975; Cushing and Walsh 1976; Parsons et al. 1978; Hennemuth 1979; Robertson and Francis 1979; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission 1982, 1983; Fisheries Research Division 1983; Longhurst 1983).

The basic problem in attempting to study productivity is simply that to make the synoptic, seasonal and spatial (3-dimensional) measurements of the various nutrients and plankton parameters required (as well as salinity and temperature measurements) over the large area involved is a very difficult task. Larkin (1983), for example, has stated that “the key to future understanding almost certainly lies in large-scale, multidisciplinary multiship sampling programmes to attain simultaneously the necessary geographical scope and the necessary ecosystem converage”. Unlike lakes, the sea represents an “open system” where input-output models do not apply. It is suspected that the data, even if obtained, will not lead to the sort of model which would relate fisheries potential to productivity in a quantitative manner (and thereby serve as a management model) because of the complexities of the food web. Larkin (1983) has suggested that such an approach may be 50 years away.

From the above considerations, it is my contention that productivity studies should be considered to be of the nature of long-term, basic research rather than short-term practical research if unwarranted expectations are not to be raised.

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Benthic Studies

Much of the marine biological work carried out in New Zealand since the visit of H.M.S. Challenger in 1874 has consisted of taxonomic studies of the benthos. Although taxonomic studies are still important in as much as correct indentification of species is critical to any biological study, it is clear that benthic research in New Zealand must be revised to include a quantitative and more ecological approach aimed at a better understanding of the role of the benthos in marine ecosystems. In this context, benthic ecology may be defined as the study of the relations of benthic organisms to their surroundings, both animate and inanimate. To date, much of the emphasis has been on the influence of physical parameters, such as the nature of the substratum, water depth, salinity and temperature, on the distibution of benthic species. Now, however, we must adopt a broader view and evaluate also benthic-pelagic interactions, such as the contribution of benthic feedback processes to production in the water column, and the role of the benthos as a food resource for bottom-feeding fish. In many cases, a more ecosystem-oriented approach to benthic research will require working, in co-operation with physical and chemical oceanographers, sedimentologists and fisheries scientists. An example of this is the West Coast Project, a multi-disciplinary study begun in 1979 aimed at achieving a better understanding of relationships between physical environmental factors, nutrient renewal, and biological productivity off the west coast of the South Island. Part of the project concerns the role of the benthos in the ecosystem, in particular the part played by benthic organisms in the transfer of energy derived from pelagic production, via the benthos, to bottom-dwelling predators, especially fish.

Benthic organisms are often the most convenient component by which to assess marine environmental impact: many are sedentary organisms and tend to give an integrated picture of conditions in the water column. The need to study benthos in regard to the potential environmental impact of any mining of Chatham Rise phosphorites is obvious (Dawson 1984) and benthic studies are important in as much as they permit the monitoring of disturbances such as the building of proposed power stations in Auckland (Grange 1982). Benthic organisms may serve as indicators of pollutants and the structure of the benthic community may be indicative of a stressed or disturbed environment.

The S.W. Pacific region is one of great habitat and species diversity. One approach to biological studies is to compare environments where a number of parameters are held constant so that the variation of the fauna with a limited number of parameters can be studied. An example of this has been the investigation of faunal distributions in New Zealand fiords (Grange et al. 1981; Richardson in press). The fiords are characterized by steep rock faces which provides a rare type of habitat and animal community. The composition of both is attributable to a pattern of water circulations which, in its turn, is a direct consequence of the physical structure of fiords (deep water enclaves flanked by steep slopes). The only communities known to be comparable with the fiord faunas (explored to 40 m) are those described from the submarine canyons of the Mediterranean at 100-400 m. Comparison of the extensive work done (by submersible) in the Mediterranean with the direct study (by scuba) of accessible Fiordland faunas has enabled the distribution of world-wide benthic forms (restricted in the fiords to vertical rock faces in relatively constant physical conditions) to be related to substrate type, latitude, light, water movement, depth and temperature. For the corals encountered in the fiords, for example, it has been established that shelter (from light, current movement and particulate matter) is the prime requirement and not water depth and temperature as previously thought. The fiords therefore hold considerable scientific potential in providing a stable natural reference area in which the linkages between organisms and their environment can be more clearly defined than in most other marine habitats.

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New Zealand lays claim to the Ross Dependency and has had a continuous scientific presence there since the International Geophysical Year in 1957. Two important treaties have been or are being negotiated on Antarctica, the convention of the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980) and the International Regime for Antarctic Mineral Resources. New Zealand has played an important role in the negotiation of both of these treaties. In essence, these treaties reflect the fact that exploitation of Antarctic resources may be about to take place. Their object is to try to ensure that any exploitation takes place in an orderly manner.

As far as New Zealand is concerned, the two resources of importance are krill from the Southern Oceans and hydrocarbons from the Ross Sea. Because New Zealand has no vessel capable of working in Antarctic waters, it is unable to take part fully in projects such as the international BIOMASS project to look at krill distribution throughout the Southern Oceans or in projects to assess the hydrocarbon resources of the Ross Sea or the potential environmental impact of their development. In addition to these resource-related projects, Antarctica offers any number of projects on biology, hydrology and geology of great scentific interest. For example, Victoria University has been a major participant in the MSSTS (McMurdo Sound Sediment and Tectonic Studies) and CIROS (Cenozoic Investigations in Western Ross Sea) projects in which various sites have been drilled to study the geological history of the region. As previously noted, Antarctica has a major influence on global climate and the development of the East and West Antarctic ice sheets approximately 15 and 5-6 m.yrs ago respectively has had a profound effect on this. These changes in the Antarctic ice sheets are recorded in deep-sea sediments as far away as the equator. Kennett (1977) has played a major role in evaluating these effects. In addition, the region south of the Antarctic Converge is the most important biogenic silica sink in the World Ocean (cf. Barron and Whitman 1981). It should be emphasized that the study of the glacial history of Antarctica is not merely an academic diversion but one of great relevance to modern climate (particularly the influence of atmospheric CO2 in the stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet, for instance).

Because of the lack of facilities and manpower, NZOI has not played its full role in the study of Antarctic oceanography. Nonetheless, this is an area of immense scientific significance and New Zealand oceanographers should be encouraged to engage in the study of this region whenever possible, particularly at a time when resource development is coming to the fore.

Historical and Geographical Perspectives

Whilst modern oceanography can be said to have commenced with the H.M.S. Challenger Expedition of 1872-76 and indeed the term “oceanography” derives from the 1880's, the subject was to enter another period of abeyance in the early twentieth century (Deacon 1971). The re-emergence of oceanography stems from the Second World War when the importance of anti-submarine warfare (and therefore underwater acoustics) was recognized during the Battle of the Atlantic and the importance of wave studies recognized for the Normandy landings and the Battle of the Pacific. The period since the Second World War has seen a much increased recognition of oceanography such that the major industrial nations (U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Japan, U.K., Federal Republic of Germany and France) all have substantial state-funded oceanographic (including deep-sea) programmes and oceanography is seen as a growth area in science. Part of this stems from the development of techniques such as echo sounding (which was first used in 1920 but was not accurate until about 1950) and seismic reflection in the 1950's (Shepard 1973). These enabled the accurate charting of the ocean floor on a large-scale (Tharp 1982). Similarly, the introduction of the Kullenberg piston corer page 28 (1947) and the Phleger gravity corer (1951) (Barron and Whitman 1981) enabled sea floor sediment sampling to become routine (cf. Moore and Heath 1978). For the earth sciences as a whole, the reasons for this expansion in activity are not hard to find and are neatly summed up in the quotation by Bullard at the beginning of this paper. It has been the study of the deep-sea floor which has led to the major intellectual developments of geology this century, namely sea-floor spreading in 1963 and plate tectonics in 1969. The 1970's have seen a building on these ideas. In particular, much effort is now being directed to the understanding of continental margins in various settings, a topic of enormous importance to the exploration of hydrocarbon deposits. The relatively new science of paleoceanography is also being developed and is resulting in an understanding of the climatic history of the planet over the last 100 m.yrs or so in a way that is not possible by studying continental geology alone (cf. Berger 1981; Kennett 1982; Shackleton 1982). From a more practical point of view, the oceans are also being examined as a source of resources (both mineral and biological) as well as “ocean space” which can be used for such purposes as sub-seabed disposal of high-level nuclear waste, for instance. To give some idea of the scale of utilization of the oceans, in 1979 the oceans provided 63.8 million tonnes of fish (110,000 tonnes in New Zealand waters), 13.7 million barrels of oil per day (22.8% of the world's total), 9.4 × 1012 cu.ft. gas per day (16.4% of the world total) and there was a minimum of 413 million tonnes of shipping worldwide (Mann Borgese and Ginsburg 1982) (cf. Brown and Crutchfield 1982). Most of these recovery figures are increasing yearly. In addition, the importance of the oceans on weather and climate, as a means of transport and for defence, as a medium for the disposal of waste and as a possible source of wave, tidal and thermal energy is well recognized. A list of headings from the 1981 Overview of NERC Policy and Support for Research in Marine Life Sciences document gives some idea of the possible applications of marine research: terrestrial inputs to the sea (i.e. discharge of sewage), atmospheric inputs to the sea (i.e. lead), climatic change (i.e. recording climatic change in sediment cores, effects of CO2 in the atmosphere), disposal of radioactive waste to the deep sea, thining of the sea floor, energy extraction from the sea, marine fouling, exploitation and conservation of living marine resources, cultivation of fish and shellfish, culture of algae, nature conservation in the marine environment and medicine (marine pharmacology). The oceans are therefore an increasingly important part of the world economy. Yet, in a way, ocean science is like space exploration in explaining to mankind his position in time and space in the universe — a freak event, in an interglacial period. To this extent, I believe that ocean science will increasingly impinge on the consciousness of man and become a major cultural perception as the achievements in the field become more widely recognized. A similar trend has occurred as the evolution of the planets has become better understood (Stoffler 1984).

To some extent, these developments are a function of technique. The Deep-Sea Drilling Programme of D.V. Glomar Challenger in which over 600 holes have been drilled into the sea floor since 1968 has revolutionized our thinking on the history of the oceans and the Earth and justifies the fact that it is by far the biggest project in the Earth Sciences ever undertaken (Emiliani 1981; Hsu 1982). Four legs of the Glomar Challenger have been in the S.W. Pacific and New Zealand geologists have benefited enormously from participation and from the cruise results. It is a great pity that New Zealand cannot now afford membership of I.P.O.D. as that will probably preclude Glomar Challenger returning to New Zealand waters again, even though important problems have been identified. Techniques such as Deep-Tow and Sea-Beam have substantially increased our knowledge of the structure and sedimentary processes on the sea floor. The use of submersibles has led to a great increase in our understanding of processes occurring at the crest of mid-ocean ridges and, in particular, of the discovery of hydrothermal vents on the Galapagos Ridge Crest by Alvin in 1977. Soviet marine geologists are also stressing the use of submersibles (Sagalevich and Bogdanov page 29 1984). The U.S. Geosecs programme resulted in our understanding for the first time element budgets of the oceans on a world-wide scale and the MANOP programme is presently enabling a start to be made on an understanding of the fluxes of elements to and from the deep-sea floor. These techniques represent the most sophisticated that oceanography has to offer at present and there is no doubt that, as a result, our knowledge of the ocean floor greatly exceeds that of 20 years ago. Nonetheless, such is the cost of some of these tools and the so-called sophistication factor that they entail (The Advisory Board for the Research Councils 1982; Bondi 1984) that oceanography has become a part of “Big Science” and, in many cases, international co-operation has been essential to fund these developments (cf. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission 1982). Indeed, an appealing aspect of oceanography is its international character. Yet, despite this, it is still possible to produce work of international standard using relatively unsophisticated equipment. For example, the discovery of hydrothermal manganese crusts in the western flanks of the Tonga-Kermadec Ridge in 1981 was made using pipe dredge (Cronan et al. 1982), a piece of equipment no more sophisticated than could be found on H.M.S. Challenger. Similarly, the observation that boiling of hydrothermal fluids has occurred on the mid-Atlantic Ridge was deduced from a study of inclusions in marine basalts collected by dredging. Anderson (1983) commented that “it is ironic that the oldest marine geological technique has presented the most recent surprise from the mid-ocean ridges”. The first large quantities of deep-sea sediments were collected in 1817-1818 by Sir John Ross in Baffin Bay by means of a “deep sea clam” (Barron and Whitman 1981), a piece of equipment still used at NZOI. For New Zealand, the important lesson is that, whilst we can learn greatly from the use of the most sophisticated equipment available (indeed it is essential for some of the problems we wish to solve) and welcome its use in New Zealand waters, nonetheless much can be learned from studying the unique area of the S.W. Pacific with standard equipment which has not changed much in the last couple of decades. For this, New Zealand scientists need to employ what in economics would be termed the law of comparative advantage. Namely, our work can make substantial advances which can be recognized internationally by applying standard techniques to a region of great diversity of interest, namely the S.W. Pacific, a region which is still relatively rarely visited by research vessels from the industrial world. Indeed, it could be considered that we have an international obligation to fill in our section of the jig saw of the world's ocean. To do this, we need to compare our results with those of the best oceangraphic institutions overseas in order to remain internationally competitive and not drift into becoming a scientific backwater (cf. The Advisory Board for the Research Councils 1982).

To give some idea of the problem facing New Zealand oceanographers, Carter (1981) has estimated that, in the New Zealand region, we have collected one sediment sample per 100 km2 on the continental shelf and one sample per 3,500 km2 on the Campbell Plateau. Ten years ago, the Southwestern Pacific Basin was scarcely known. Sampling on the few traverses that have crossed the basin have been at intervals of about every 100 km or so. Molnar et al (1975) estimated that there were areas in the Southwestern Pacific Basin of 6 × 105 km2 with no soundings at all. Much of the New Zealand offshore region (especially the deep sea) therefore is known only at the reconnaissance level and much remains to be done to obtain full understanding of the marine environment around New Zealand. It should be stated, however, that, even in the North Atlantic, the best surveyed ocean, there are many areas where only one sounding every 2,700 km2 is available (Roberts 1977).

Van Andel (1981) has cogently argued that the biggest gains in oceanography are to be made by the close study of small, critically selected areas using the most

The U.S.S.R. also has a major commitment to oceanography on a world-wide scale (as witnessed by the relative frequency of visits by Russian oceanographic vessels to New Zealand). No figures are, however, available to the author on this. Nonetheless, page 30 sophisticated instrumentation available. In this way, the detailed mechanics of crustal or sedimentary processes will become apparent. It seems to me, however, that the sheer scale of the ocean around New Zealand precludes this approach and forces New Zealand oceanographers to take a wider perspective. Nonetheless, as my colleague D.S. Cronan of Imperial College, London, has often stressed, ocean research must be problem-oriented and not area-oriented if the best results are to be obtained. This is an attitude that I unreservedly share.

Ocean Research Around the World

In order to appreciate New Zealand's role in ocean research, it is necessary to consider the extent of ocean research in other countries. Overall there are nearly 2,000 oceanographic institutions and university departments throughout the world specializing in marine studies (Meincke 1977). Most, but not all, are in the developed countries. The major oceanographic nations (U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Japan, Federal Republic of Germany, France and U.K.) (see Anon 1982 for order of spending and growth rates) all have extensive marine programmes with both coastal and deep-sea components and with a number of vessels to implement the programme. In each of these countries, the oceans are seen as a major area for future research which will bring long-term benefits to the nation. Nonetheless, oceanography is a science where international co-operation is important and the 1970's marked the International Decade of Ocean Exploration (I.D.O.E.), a decade in which large advances were made in our understanding of the oceans (cf. Wenk 1980: Gross 1982).

Although precise figures are difficult to come by because of the diversity of institutions and interests, the U.S.A. is far and away the leading nation in ocean sciences (Anon 1982; Walsh 1982) and hosts what are probably the three leading marine science institutions in the world (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Lamont-Daherty Geological Observatory) in addition to a number of other major institutions. Total U.S. spending on oceanography is over 100-fold more than that of the principal New Zealand government agency studying ocean science (i.e NZOI). The U.S. had 66 oeanographic research vessels in 1980, although this is projected to decline to 48 in 1984 (Booda 1983). U.S. interests in oceanography are world-wide and it leads a number of major international projects such as IPOD, IDOE, CLIMAP, MANOP etc, which are the pace-setters in oceanography. Of particular interest to New Zealand is the U.S. — New Zealand Cooperation Science Project which lists the major topics for consideration as “physical oceanography, marine geology and geophysics, and marine biology, especially fisheries”. No other topics are listed. This listing is a reflection of New Zealand's high standing in the marine sciences in the U.S.A. In 1978, a joint U.S./N.Z. Seminar/Workshop on Ocean Exploration was held at the University of Auckland to explore ways of collaboration (Nelson 1978). It should be emphasized, however, that U.S. interests in the oceans are pragmatic. In a U.S. Congressional Report in 1974 (Magnuson 1974), it was estimated that the value of ocean resources to the U.S. in 1972-73 was SUS 27 billion and was projected to be between SUS 80-100 billion by the year 2000 (at 1973 prices). These figures include mineral resources (oil and gas, sulphur, manganese nodules, fresh water, construction materials and other minerals), living resources (food fish, industrial fish, botanical resources) and non-extractive uses (energy, recreation, transportation, receptacle for waste and communication). More recently, it was estimated that production of offshore oil and gas from the U.S. E.E.Z. was worth $US 26 billion and of fisheries SUS 2.5 billion (Champ et al. 1984). These huge figures indicate the increasing importance of the oceans to the U.S. economy (cf. Colwell 1984), a fact which has been emphasized since the U.S. declaration of its E.E.Z. in 1983 (Champ et. al 1984).

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et al. (1973), Gorshkov (1976), Anon (1976), Linebaugh (1980) and Baturin (1982). The U.S.S.R. is reported to have at least 55 scientific research vessels (Breyer and Palmer 1977) (cf. Plunkett 1969). An excellent overview of Soviet oceanography has recently been presented in Anon (1984a) and accompanying articles (cf. Bunich 1974).

Japan is also investing heavily in the oceans. In 1981, its total budget in marine science and technology was 60,969 million Yen, most in applied research (Technological Information Series, Japan Marine Science and Technology Centre, 1981). The biggest items are:—

  • — Multidisciplinary research and development projects on marine science and technology, and development of the marine observation satellite (18, 221 million Yen).

  • — Deep-sea mineral exploration. Studies on uranium recovery from sea water, OTEC and subsea oil production system (13,294 million Yen).

  • — Hydrographic services. Marine meteorological services. Studies in port construction. Preliminary study on Kausai offshore airport project (12,229 million Yen)

  • — Research and development of marine aquaculture, and of unutilized living resources. Studies on development of coastal fishing grounds (11,176 million Yen).

Details of some of these projects are given by Tsukamoto (1981), Ford and Georghiou (1982) and Georghiou et al. (1983). The importance of the sea to the future development of Japan can perhaps be best seen, however, in the 42-point plan submitted in “Basic Concept Relating to Marine Development from a long-time viewpoint — Marine Development and Preservation in the 21st Century” (summarized in Anon 1982) which are comprehensive to say the least. Japan's E.E.Z. is about 12 times the land area “so it will be necessary to make as much effort as possible for marine development” (Anon 1982). Interestingly, Japan's relationship to the sea in terms of area is very similar to that of New Zealand.

The Federal Republic of Germany has a very substantial marine programme which has expanded greatly over the last decade and which reflects the wide-ranging influence of the sea on many sectors of the German economy (Schuster 1980; Programme of Marine Research and Technology 1976-1979). At a time when Germany is finding increasing difficulty in selling its traditional industrial products on the world markets, marine technology is seen as a growth area for the economy. Marine resource assessment and environmental protection are also considered important. For the period 1976-1979, the German marine programme was budgeted at 1065 million D.M. per year), of which approximately 82% came from the Federal Government, coastal states and the German Research Society and the rest from private enterprise. Five major topics of interest were established:—

  • — Investigations with the aim of helping to keep the seas clean.

  • — Projects to open up marine sources of food.

  • — Intensification of activities in tapping marine reserves of hydrocarbons and mineral raw materials.

  • — Investigation and control of natural processes on the shore and in the coastal areas.

  • — Improvement in the predictions routines of physical conditions in the marine atmosphere and in the sea.

As might be expected, technological developments are also important in German thinking on the seas.

As an example of the above, the programme to study “mineral raw materials” of the sea including Red Sea metalliferous sediments, placer deposits off the East African coast and manganese nodules has been, in my opinion, of the highest standard (cf. Schott 1980) and the German marine minerals-programme has made a substantial scientific contribution. In fact German Geological Survey first introduced the idea of “economically oriented sea research” in 1969 (Hinz and von Stackelberg 1984).

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Germany and New Zealand have signed a scientific co-operation agreement which has led to some co-operation in the marine field, particularly in marine mineral resources.

France has had a rapidly growing investment in oceanography over the last 15 years. The budget of C.N.E.X.O. (Centre National pour l'Exploitation des Oceans), for example, has increased from 22.2 million Francs in 1967 to 271.1 million Francs in 1980 (CNEXO Annual Report for 1980). This is, however, only a part of the total French budget on marine sciences to which the funding of ORSTOM, of individual ministries such as industry, interior, health and transport as well as the universities on oceanography must be added. France now lists the exploitation of marine resources as one of five major areas for future technological research in its National Plan of 1982-1983 (the others being the space programme, civil aviation, telecommunications and broadcasting and research into the control and development of nuclear energy). It is worth quoting the outline of the plan which states that “the development of new techniques of underwater exploration, and the change from a policy of indiscriminate harvesting (or exploitation) to one of re-stocking (or management) or marine resources, creates three types of problem which must be resolved during the period of the two-year Plan: the management of the environment, the definition of suitable research structures, and finally an evaluation of the three current technological programmes: marine cultivation, polymetallic nodules, and thermal energy from the sea.

In the course of the two-year Plan, two principal objectives will be pursued: on the one hand, a balanced increase in the funds devoted to research on living matter (fish, marine cultivation and environmental studies), and on the other hand the construction of a new oceanographic research vessel”.

This increase in attention has brought France to the forefront of marine science in little over a decade. The C.N.E.X.O. effort is apportioned amongst five major areas of study (living resources, mineral and energy resources, submarine operations, protection and management of the seas and ocean-atmosphere interactions). France also now has a Minister for the Sea.

In the U.K., oceanography is now considered a major discipline. In the Chairman's report for the National Environmental Council for 1980-81 (NERC Annual Report for 1980-81), Sir Hermann Bondi stated that “to know what riches the ground holds, to know what the oceans can do for us, to discover more about the hidden continents of Antarctica — these will be at the centre of human progress”. The Advisory Board for the Research Councils in its 1982 report on the U.K. science budget echoes this in its selection of five key growth areas for N.E.R.C., one of which is “oceanography (marine sedimentation, and new techniques for assessing ocean chemistry)”. To this end, N.E.R.C.'s annual spending on oceanography in 1980-81 (including commissioned research) was in excess of 19 million pounds. However, this ignores the very large private-sector and state spending in the development of the North Sea oil fields which has had a major impact on the U.K. economy. In 1982, for example, total proceeds from the sale of U.K. oil and gas were 14.3 billion pounds and 1.0 billion pounds respectively which is just under 5% of the U.K. G.N.P. (U.K. Dept. of Energy 1983). Total value of orders reported by operators for oil and gas development work in the U.K. continental shelf in that year was 2.26 billion pounds, of which 72% went to U.K. companies. Expenditure on offshore inspection, repair and maintenance alone in 1983 was 281 million pounds. The petroleum geology of this region has been described by Illing and Holson (1981). The importance of the sea to the U.K. is shown by the Royal Society of London hosting two major conferences on the sea and its development (Paton et al. 1978; Charnock and Adye 1982).

The Dutch also seem to be expanding their interests in deepwater technology, particularly with regard to the petroleum industry (Crawford 1983).

Canada appears to have a progressive attitude towards ocean research (cf. Colpitts 1980) and it is perhaps worth quoting the introduction of the “Oceans” section of page 33 the 1981/82 Report of Federal Science Activities of Canada:

“the statement that Canada extends from sea to sea indicates not only the size of the country but also suggests that the oceans which surround us are part of our national consciousness. Canada touches and is touched by three oceans, has the longest coastline of any country, and has within its jurisdiction massive areas of a resource-rich continental shelf.

Oceans, however, are more than geographic entities. Canada has long been a maritime nation from some social and economic points of view, and is presently in the process of seeing a major expansion in its reliance on ocean resources and marine-based activities. In 1977, for example, Canada extended its fisheries jursidiction to 200 miles, giving this country full management control and responsibility for fish stocks within those limits. Offshore oil and gas exploration, spurred by energy shortages, has been progressing for several years, and is showing promising results in such hostile environments as the Beaufort Sea, the Arctic Islands, the Labrador Sea and the Grand Banks. Associated with these developments are requirements for transportation systems to bring hydrocarbons to market, and major projects are underway in industry, and government as well, to design shipping systems capable of operating in ice-infested waters.

These activities and others depend on a scientific knowledge of the oceans and of the interrelationships between the marine environment and human activities”.

In 1981/82, the Canadian Federal Government spent $C 63.0 million on ocean sciences divided between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ($C 31.9 million) and the Department of the Environment ($C 9.9 million) and the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources ($C 5.9 million) as well as the various research councils. If expenditure on hydrography and research on fisheries are added, the total federal spending on ocean sciences in Canada becomes SC 124.6 million. This research includes studies on ocean climate, sea ice research, remote sensing, Arctic hydrography, ocean information services, ocean industry development, hydrographic surveys and fisheries. In addition, there are 250-350 university scientists and engineers in Canada who have interests in ocean research but most of their funding comes from the research councils listed above. Some Canadian provinces also have scientific research establishments which carry out ocean-related research but their budgets are not large compared to the federal expenditure. Finally, the oil and gas industry has made sizeable research expenditures in offshore waters related to the exploration and potential production of offshore hydrocarbon deposits. Expenditure by Canadian industry on problems related to ocean science might total $C 5-6 million.

In Australia in the 1981/1982 financial year, the figures for expenditure on marine science were as follows: marine biology $A 5,345,000, living resources $A 6,530,000 pharmacology $A 2,010,000, marine geosciences $A 2,765,000 and oceanography $A 4,875,000. This gives a total expenditure of $A 21,525,000. In addition, to the above, defence spending on oceanography is $A 3,700,000. Offshore exploration also accounted for $A 29,400,000 for hydrocarbon exploration by the private sector and $A 165,000 for minerals exploration (split almost equally between State geological surveys and the private sector). The hydrography budget (mapping and seafloor) was $A 4,900,000 for defence agencies and $A 775,000 for Commonwealth Organisations. The total spending in Australia on the oceans and its resources in 1981/82 was therefore $A 60,465,000. In addition to this, a new CSIRO laboratory will be built at Hobart at the cost of $A10.75 million and a vessel will be procured for this institute. Australia also appears to be taking its 200 mile E.E.Z. seriously as shown by the publication, by the Australian Academy of Science, of a volume examining the implications of the E.E.Z. to Australia's offshore resources (George 1978; Prescott 1979; Anon 1984b).

As well as individual nations, the island states of the South Pacific have shown tremendous interest in the marine resources of the region since the setting up of CCOP/SOPAC (Committee for Co-ordination of Joint Prospecting for Mineral Resources in South Pacific Offshore Areas) consisting of the Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Western Samoa, Kiribati and Vanuatu in 1971. This organization has been responsible for the upsurge in minerals exploration activity in the S.W. Pacific region over the last decade. The New Zealand Government has strongly supported this organization, both financially and with scientific manpower, and NZOI has played a major role in this. It is hoped that the page 34 importance of this contribution to our Pacific neighbours is not forgotten. In addition, in 1983, the Cook Islands government created the position of Minister of Marine Resources.

In 1981/82, New Zealand spent the following on ocean research: N.Z. Oceanographic Institute ($1,711,000 Scientific establishment, $1,849,000 for R.V. Tangaroa, total $3,560,000), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries ($6,199,000 fisheries management and inspection, $6,946,000 fisheries research) and Ministry of Defence offshore naval tasks (hydrographic survey $8,900,000, protection of offshore resources $8,015,000). In 1982/1983, Petrocorp spent $10,452,000 on offshore hydrocarbon exploration, principally seismic surveys off Taranaki, which will increase to a peak of about $80,000,000 in 1983/84 for drilling and seismic studies before declining again. In 1981/82, the Defence Scientific Establishment in Auckland spent $2.84 million on sonar systems and related defence costs. Although these are classified as oceanography, the D.S.E. does little or no direct work on oceanography as such. In 1982, the Portobello Marine Laboratory (University of Otago) has a budget of $255,000. Total government spending on these ocean-related activities was $40,968,000. The N.Z. Oceanographic Institute is the major oceanographic research institute in New Zealand and the only one with a programme covering all major aspects of ocean research. Its budget was however, only 8.7% of the national total. In point of fact, considering the importance of the ocean environment, it can be seen that New Zealand runs a research programme characterized by a low budget and low manpower.

In regard to the importance of NZOI in New Zealand's ocean research programme, it is worth quoting Larkin (1983) on the role of institutions in ocean science. “One of the facts of life is that marine science generally has been tied to relatively large institutions. In Canada, where I come from, virtually all of the marine work of real substance has come from the activites of the biological stations of what used to be called the Fisheries Research Board of Canada. The same type of thing is true in the United States, the United Kingdom, and many other parts of the world. Ocean science is big science. It requires many people from many disciplines working as teams on long-term national and international projects. The accomplishments of the past century have clearly shown that it is institutional assemblages such as that of the Woods Hole complex that have led the way, and it will be their fortunes that dictate the pace of advances in the future.” This statement is equally true for New Zealand.


Over the last few years, certain key words such as “public accountability”, “national interest” and “mission-oriented strategic research” have been introduced in science administration in New Zealand. These words presuppose that science is short term and pragmatic and that the development of science occurs in a linear manner which administrators can predict and plan. Yet, our experience throughout the 20th Century has been that, to the contrary, scientific development is discontinuous and that the great developments of science have come from unexpected quarters. As an example, Professor Seibold, in a perceptive overview of scientific research in Germany (Seibold 1982), wrote “Discovery must precede practical benefit or, indeed abuse of knowledge. It is often at a very late stage that it becomes apparent whether a discovery is going to be of any use or not, and if so, in what way. When James Maxwell placed his equations on record in 1873 he was not thinking in terms of cable TV. When Hegel died in 1831 Marx had just reached the age of 13. Neither was able to foresee the effects which their ideas would have in our century. This is one of the fundamental problems of basic research, and it is even more of a problem for those who have to support it. Anyone who first looks for the practical benefits, relevance or applications of basic research will only support the best research by pure chance, if, in fact, he supports it at all. Louis Pasteur, to whom science and public health owe so much put it just as bluntly: “There are no page 35 applied sciences, only applications of science.” It comes as no surprise that Professor Seibold should entitle his paper “Quality first in fundamental research”. A similar theme is presented in Anon (1983). The difficulty of predicting future trends in science is also well illustrated by Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (1982) who showed, based on a study of historical trends, the impossibility of predicting developments 30 years ahead. Indeed, in physical oceanography, all the major advances over the last 20-30 years have relied on the successful development of new types of oceanographic instrumentation and techniques.

From a different tack, Professor F. J. Dyson of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, addressing the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Dyson 1983), stated that “the scientific problems which the mandarins find interesing are, almost by definition, the fashionable problems. Nowadays the award of jobs is usually controlled not by a single mandarin but by a committee of mandarins. A committee is even less likely than an individual to break loose from the fashionable trends of the day”. The implication of this, of course, is that innovative science cannot be directed by a committee from above.

Ostenso (1980) has also commented that “the expressions “basic and applied research”, “science and engineering”, “research and technology” have become hackneyed from over use and convey the erroneous idea that the pure and applied science processes go on encapsulated and separated from each other, whereas, in fact, they are highly interacting functions”.

In addition, New Zealand is a highly protected economy with a consequence that it produces highly protected ideas. It continues to produce traditional agruicltural produce in bulk under heavy subsidy in spite of the fact that reliance on these products has led to a declining living standard relative to its competitors since the peak in the early 1950's. The presence of subsidy, however, prevents the rationalization of the economy with some traditional sectors being curtailed to make way for more dynamic sectors.

In the ocean sciences, the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute has made a number of direct contributions to the economy. For example, it has mapped the principal marine minerals (manganease nodules, phosphorites and ironsands) around New Zealand, given advice on the definition of New Zealand's E.E.Z. for the U.N. Law of the Sea Conference, carried out bathymetric and sediment surveys along the Maui pipeline and the Cook Strait cable, conducted a feasibility study for the cable route between Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, carried out surveys relative to the extension of Wellington airport runway, advised on harbour dredging and dumping, studied the sediment budgets at Oriental Bay and Lyall Bay, determined the hydrological and biological effects of building power stations and sewer outfalls in coastal locations, predicted tsunami travel times to New Zealand, investigated the cause of the Tasman Bay slime, reviewed marine pollution around New Zealand, discovered orange roughy, made bathymetric and sediment charts available to fisherman and other marine users, been involved in the preparation of environmental impact audits and is presently studying the effects on the benthic ecology of possible future mining of Chatham Rise phosphorites. The study of erosional processes on the continental shelf is also useful in assessing any offshore engineering projects. These are all projects that can be defended “in the national interest”. In addition to the above, one has only to reread the literature of 30 years ago to realize the almost complete absence of information on the oceans around New Zealand which prevailed when the NZOI was founded in 1954. In such a situation, national planning of the utilization of the E.E.Z. would be almost impossible. It tends to be forgotten how much such information would cost if it had to be supplied by consultants for each individual development project as it occurred.

Yet, on reflection, it can be seen that, by virtue of the fact that the land area of the Earth is constant and that population pressures are increasing, the importance of the page 36 oceans to the economic well being of mankind can only increase over the next decades (cf. Wenk 1977). The preceding discussion of the involvement of the industralized nations in ocean research would suggest that they all recognize this and see direct benefits to their economy of ocean research.

For New Zealand, Kennaway (1981) has shown that there has been a substantial increase in the New Zealand offshore fishing industry since the declaration of the E.E.Z. in 1977 with New Zealand's share of the net benefit of exploiting these resources rising from 25% in 1977 to 55% in 1980. However, this still leaves considerable scope for an increased New Zealand component in this industry. This increased involvement could be worth perhaps in excess of $100 million. Aquaculture is another increased important development which could be worth millions of dollars annually to New Zealand (Dinamani and Hickman 1980). In 1984, New Zealand mussel farmers harvested about 10,000 tonnes of mussels which yielded $12 million in export receipts. This is an industry which expanded from almost nothing five years previously. Seaweeds represent another largely untapped resource (Moore 1966; Chisteller et. al. 1984; Hollings 1985).

The Chatham Rise phosphorites offer a similar example. It is estimated that in 1990 New Zealand will be importing fertilizer to the value of $375–$500 million. This could be supplied by Chatham Rise phosphorite.

The Maui gas field already makes a substantial contribution to the New Zealand economy. In 1982/83, the Maui gasfield produced 70. 122 × 1015 joules (1869 × 106 m3) of gas worth $90.46 million (including royalty payments to the Government). 394,000 tonnes of condensate worth $154 million were also recovered. The Maui field therefore produced a yield of $244 million in 1982/1983 and this figure is increasing. In addition, the Great South Basin of the Campbell Plateau has been subject to extensive prospection and drilling (including 8 offshore wells). Recent reviews of hydrocarbon potential in New Zealand include Evans (1982), Katz (1983), Shirley (1983) and Hough (1984).

In shipping, New Zealand manned vessels carry only 13 % of the total imports and 12% of the total exports. Increased investment in New Zealand shipping would save many millions of dollars in “invisibles”.

It is clear from this that the oceans could yield New Zealand several hundred million dollars per year if more ocean-oriented policies were adopted based solely on what is known already.

In addition to the above, the necessity for conservationist policies in the oceans is becoming increasingly clear (Johannes 1978; Gardner 1984; Ridgway and Glasby 1984).

Underlining all this is the need for basic research because it is never clear where developments will occur. For example, a change from developmental to conservationist policies requires a different set of expertise. It is only by encouraging scientists to master their own disciplines that the expertise is available when required. Since the early 1950's when oceanography began on a reasonable scale in New Zealand and when virtually nothing was known of the ocean environment around New Zealand, there has been a very substantial increase in our knowledge on this topic and the subject has developed from mere description to the study of processes. Yet, if the oceans are to be exploited for New Zealand, an even greater understanding will be required. At present, as can be seen by comparison with spending figures in the industralized nations, New Zealand does not spend highly on ocean research, even on a per capita basis (cf. Anon 1982). In 1981-82, for example, the ocean research (including R.V. Tangaroa) was only 4.3 % of the total D.S.I.R. budget. From what has been said, it would appear to me that this spending on ocean sciences is a wise investment for the future which can only be to the long-term benefit of the nation.


I would like to thank colleagues, both in New Zealand and abroad, who freely made available information, particularly regarding national oceanographic programmes and page 37 their costs. I would like to thank Professor E. Seibold (President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and formerly Professor of Marine Geology at the University of Kiel), Professor J. P. Kennett (University of Rhode Island), Dr J. C. Yaldwyn (Director of the National Museum of New Zealand) and N. M. Ridgway, E. W. Dawson, P. K. Probert and J. R. Richardson (New Zealand Oceanographic Institue) for their most helpful comments in preparing this manuscript. Dr G. W. Moore (U.S. Geological Survey) kindly permitted the reproduction of the diagram in Fig. 1.


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* This paper represents a personal viewpoint and not that of D.S.I.R.