Ecoast to Investigate Local Break

Raglan’s famed left-hand break at Manu Bay has qualified to be one of the seven iconic surf breaks in New Zealand to be studied by Raglan-based eCoast Marine Consulting and Research.

eCoast has put together a group of experts that will look at the breaks at Manu Bay, Auckland’s Piha Beach, ‘The Bar’ at Whangamata, ‘Pines’ at Gisborne’s Wainui Beach, Lyall Bay in Wellington, and Aramoana and Whareakeake (also known as Murdering Bay) near Dunedin.

Co-director Ed Atkin says eCoast, University of Waikato scientist Associate Professor Karen Bryan and two independent consultants have received about $1.2 million from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s  2015 science investment programme for the three year study.

Entitled Remote Sensing, Classification and Management Guidelines for Surf Breaks of National and Regional Significance, the study will use remote camera imagery, underwater topography, wind and wave conditions and user information to look at how surf breaks work from a physical, social and cultural perspective.

Ed says the end product will be a set of management guidelines for the surf breaks. The group also plans to develop a website where all the data and knowledge they gather can be freely accessed.

Very little data is currently available on New Zealand’s surf breaks, but this study shows a recognition of their importance as social and economic resources that need to be protected, Ed says.

“Yet there is essentially no baseline quantitative information on which to base any management decisions. This project will change that and serve as a model for others to follow in terms of surf break protection and the protection of recreational resources in general.”

The work will also support the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010, which calls for the protection of 17 surf breaks of national significance and directs regional councils to have regard for the significant features of these important surf breaks.

“If we can look at the breaks in a scientific and quantitative way, it just makes coastal resource management a whole lot easier,” Ed said. “Surf breaks mean a lot to New Zealand.”

Another benefit will be that data from the study will also provide useful information for future developers and prospectors.

When the researchers were deciding which breaks to study, Whale Bay also came up as a potential candidate, but Manu Bay had better access, crowds and vantage points.

The two Dunedin breaks are already being monitored as part of another project so they are included for that reason.

Lyall Bay is the only break in the study not already protected under the coastal policy statement, but is included because it is one of the most significant learner or “nursery” breaks in New Zealand, Ed stated.

Rachel Benn

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