New Zealand coastline

Test Your Marine Wildlife Knowledge This Seaweek


Recent Blog:

Did you know that Seaweek in New Zealand is almost upon us? Held this year from March 5 to 13, it’s all about raising awareness and promoting understanding of the marine environment and its importance to the country. As pet parents, we play a very important part in marine wildlife conservation.

But do you really know what’s what on New Zealand’s beaches? Why should you avoid dunes when walking your dog? Whether it’s okay to harvest mussels? Are you allowed to take seaweed home?

We round up some New Zealand beach knowledge every Kiwi should know:

A New Zealand Beach. Learn about marine wildlife conservation this sea week NZ

Marine wildlife conservation and seaweed

Though it’s been used for centuries in Asia, seaweed has only recently risen in popularity in Western countries. It’s used in food, drinks, cosmetics, fertiliser, for health supplements and as a biofuel. Low in calories, high in minerals and vitamins, and a good source of plant-based protein, seaweed demand is expected to rise globally by 12.0% from 2020 to 2027.

New Zealand has over 500 species of seaweed, and it’s a common sight on many of the country’s beaches. Spiny/leather kelp, wakeme, sea lettuce and nori are some of the common edible New Zealand seaweed types you can collect.

Harvesting rules

However, before you go out and start harvesting, bear in mind there are some areas in New Zealand where there’s a total ban on seaweed harvest. These include the Kaikōura coastline and in marine reserves and some Mataitai and Taiāpure.

In those area where you can collect, always remember these marine wildlife conservation harvesting rules:

  • Only take what you need
  • Don’t damage the environment or the seaweed that’s left behind

PD Insurance NZ recently partnered with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to launch the Lead the Way Auckland programme to educate people on native wildlife habitats and how to practice responsible dog ownership while enjoying these special places. Find out more here:

Shellfish and crustaceans

Many types of shellfish and crustaceans can be found on New Zealand’s beaches, including mussels, oysters, and pipi (a type of clam). Though some can be harvested by recreational fishers, there are strict rules around the when and where they’re allowed to be taken.

The area that stretches from Marfells Beach to the Conway River, for instance, is subject to a seasonal closure for shellfish and seaweeds (excluding rock lobster and kina). Always remember to check recreational fishing regulations in your area – you can find these on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

Here’s a roundup of some common creatures and their regulations you should know this Seaweek in New Zealand:

  • Paua (abalone). Recreational fishers can harvest it but there are strict rules around the size and quantity that can be taken. Additionally, some areas are completely closed to paua fishing to allow stocks to recover.
  • Kina (sea urchin). It can be harvested by recreational fishers, but there are limits on the number that can be taken. Note there are no restrictions on minimum size.
A sea urchin. Protecting them is all part of marine wildlife conservation
  • Mussels. These can be harvested by recreational fishers, but there are limits on the number that can be taken, and some areas may be closed to mussel harvesting due to health concerns.
  • Cockles, pipis and tuatua. Like mussels, recreational fishers can harvest these types of shellfish, but NZ authorities impose limits on the number of shellfish that can be taken. Again, some areas may be closed to shellfish harvesting due to health concerns.
  • Oysters. Commercial fishers are the only ones allowed to take oysters in New Zealand, and there are strict regulations around their harvest to protect wild populations.

Wondering what else you can do help our wildlife thrive? Find out more about How Dog Parents Can Help NZ Wildlife then keep reading below.

Seabirds and marine wildlife conservation

Seabirds are an important part of New Zealand’s marine ecosystem so it’s very important that we play our part in protecting them. Here’s what you need to know for this Seaweek in New Zealand and beyond:


Litter remains one of the biggest marine conservation hazards globally. According to a report by Sustainable Coastlines, there are an estimated 1.3 billion pieces of litter on New Zealand’s beaches. Birds and animals risk mistaking trash for food or get tangled up in it. One of the most important ways you can help conserve our sea life is by disposing of your litter properly and removing litter from our beaches if you see it.

Breeding areas

Many seabirds breed on remote islands or in specific areas along the coast. Signs often mark these areas, and it’s important to avoid disturbing them during the breeding season. For example, several species of shore bird use sand dunes for shelter and nesting. Others nest in driftwood high up on the beach. It’s good to avoid these areas in general when out and about or walking your dog.

Wet sand

It’s best to walk your dog on wet sand where they’ll disturb as little of the NZ wildlife as possible. With that said, be aware that many birds arriving from migration will forage in the wet sand. Don’t let your off-leash pet chase birds. Disturbing them could mean the difference between life and death, as they need to regain their energy.

Fishing gear

Some types of fishing gear, such as longlines or trawls, can harm or kill seabirds. Try to use alternative fishing methods that are less harmful, such as jigging or handlines. Avoid fishing near bird’s breeding or roosting sites, and be aware that they may be interested in what you’re doing and there’s a risk that they get hooked.

Protecting sea birds must fall under our marine wildlife conversation efforts this Seaweek in New Zealand.

Marine mammals and marine wildlife conservation

Marine mammals like dolphins, whales and seals are an important part of our marine ecosystem, and there are several ways you can help protect them this Seaweek in New Zealand:

Keep your distance

If you’re boating or kayaking near marine mammals, keep your distance and avoid disturbing them. Laws in New Zealand require people to stay at least 50m away from dolphins and 200m away from whales.


The noise from motor boats can be highly distressing to sea life, so always avoid driving through groups of animals or cutting across their path.

Avoid sudden changes in direction as this gives animals less time to get out of the way and a higher chance of injury. It can also separate mothers from their calves and disrupt their behaviour. Be sure to check out the DOC’s tops of sharing our coasts with marine mammals.

If you’re taking your pup along, only do so where dogs are allowed and be sure to read about boat safety for dogs.


Finally, if you see a stranded or injured marine mammal, report it to the Department of Conservation (DOC) or a local wildlife rescue organisation. Don’t try to handle the animal yourself.

Want to test how Wildlife Wise you are? Test your knowledge with the DOC’s fun Lead The Way Quiz. Once done, you unlock the ability to buy an exclusive, colour-coded leash for your pet.

fur seal at the coast. disturbing them is against wildlife conservation laws

Insurance for peace of mind

Now you know a little bit more about marine wildlife conservation this Seaweek in New Zealand. Another important part of being an animal lover is insuring your pet. You never know when they could get into an accident or come down with an illness. Having to choose between your pocket and their medical care is something no pet parent wants to do.

PD Insurance is an award-winning brand that offers value rich, month-to-month pet insurance. Why not get a quote now?

Share on :