This page provides information about the three ecological classification systems.
- The Coastal Biogeographic Regions Classification is used as a framework to provide information on the coastal marine environment (waters less than 200 metres deep).
- The Marine Environment Classification is used as a framework for deep-water environments (waters 200 metres or more deep).
- The Demersal Fish Community Classification shows the geographic distribution of particular demersal fish communities.
Coastal Biogeographic Regions Classification
A biogeographic region is an area defined and classified according to visible ecological patterns and the physical characteristics of a geographic or hydrographic area. New Zealand is divided into 14 coastal biogeographic regions.
The Coastal Biogeographic Regions Classification can be used for assessing the health of the coastal marine environment, planning associated with Marine Protected Areas, and reporting on the extent of marine reserves by ecosystem-type within the territorial sea.
Map showing the 14 coastal biogeographic regions of New Zealand
This image illustrates the 14 coastal biogeographic regions of New Zealand; Three Kings Islands, North Eastern, Western North Island (includes Tapuae Marine Reserve), Eastern North Island, North Cook Strait (includes Taputeranga Marine Reserve), South Cook Strait, West Coast South Island, East Coast South Island, Fjordland, Southern, Snares Islands, Kermadec Islands, Chatham Islands and Subantarctic Islands
Marine Environment Classification
The 2005 Marine Environment Classification (or MEC for short) classifies New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) into an ecosystem-based, spatial framework. The MEC uses eight physical factors (for example, depth, sea-surface temperature, seabed slope, tidal current, and annual solar radiation) to classify and map marine areas that have a similar environmental character. The marine environments can be mapped to different levels of detail, ranging from two to more than 70 marine environment groups.
The MEC is available on the MfE Data Service.
Demersal Fish Community Classification
The Demersal Fish Community Classification uses an extensive set of research data about trawling to model the distribution of 122 demersal fish species (species that live near the sea floor). This includes blue cod, hake, hoki, john dory, orange roughy, snapper, and tarakihi.
This research data was used to estimate the abundance of fish in each species across New Zealand’s entire EEZ, including at sites for which trawl data was not available. These estimations enabled areas with a similar composition of species to be classified together.
The Demersal Fish Community Classification shows the geographic distribution of particular demersal fish communities, and describes their composition (the types of fish that live in the area) and the environmental conditions in which the fish occur.
Find out more
For more information on the Demersal Fish Community Classification, see the associated technical report: Development of a demersal fish community classification for New Zealand's exclusive economic zone [Department of Conservation website].