Marine economy

  • Image, Marine economy.

    See the latest marine economy indicator.

    The marine economy shows the contribution marine-based economic activities make to the New Zealand economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP). Measuring the marine economy shows how New Zealand’s marine environment is used to generate economic activity and how this changes over time. However, these activities can also be a source of pressure on New Zealand’s marine environment.

    We classified Marine economy as a national indicator.

    Key findings

    Image, Trend not assessed.   Trend not assessed

    In 2013 (March year), the marine economy contributed $4.0 billion (1.9 percent of total GDP) to New Zealand’s economy.

    • Offshore minerals were the largest contributor to the marine economy in 2013, at 48 percent.
    • There were 102,400 filled jobs in the marine economy in 2013.
    • Between 2007 and 2013, 299 building consents were issued for wharves and 26 for wharf sheds, with an average annual value of $18.8 million and $590,000, respectively. The value of building consents provides background information on the contribution of marine construction to economic activity.
    • The strong growth in the marine economy between 2007 and 2008 was attributable to increased value added from offshore minerals. In 2007, offshore minerals contributed $771 million. This increased to $2.2 billion in 2008 mainly due to additional production from new oil fields.

    Figure 1

    Figure 2

    Note: Due to rounding, percentages may not sum to 100 percent.

    Definition and methodology

    The marine economy is a function of both industry and geography. It is the sum of the economic activities that take place in, or use, the marine environment, or produce goods and services necessary for those activities, and make a direct contribution to the national economy.

    Estimates of the marine economy are often used as an indicator of its societal and economic importance (Kildow & McIlgorm, 2010; Suris-Regueiro et al, 2013). These estimates do not attempt to capture the value of marine natural capital or ecosystem services.

    The marine economy is measured as the value added (eg sales less intermediate consumption) of all industries under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 (ANZSIC06) that are considered to be primarily marine related during the 2007–13 March years (year ended March). It is expressed in current prices, and therefore reflects changes in output prices as well as changes in output volumes and intermediate consumption expenditure.

    To aid comparability, we used activity categories consistent with international work:

    1. offshore minerals
    2. shipping
    3. fisheries and aquaculture 
    4. marine services (eg pilot and water transport services) 
    5. marine tourism and recreation 
    6. marine construction 
    7. defence and government 
    8. manufacturing 
    9. marine research and education.

    We present estimates for the first five categories using data from Statistics NZ (2016). It was not possible to reliably identify all marine components for the marine services and marine tourism and recreation categories. Therefore, both categories are under-represented as a contribution to the marine economy. We use Statistics NZ’s building consents data to estimate marine construction and show the nature of the activity in this category and changes over time. The information has not been used to calculate the total value of the marine economy.

    We exclude activities where we could not clearly identify the boundary between the marine and non-marine component (such as defence and government, manufacturing, and marine research and education).

    Therefore, treat the estimated contribution of the marine economy to the national economy as an undercount. This undercount is consistent across the time series.

    The sample errors for marine services and marine tourism and recreation are above 50 percent for all years. Be cautious when you interpret these estimates. For further information on how industries within the marine economy are selected and categorised, see Statistics NZ (2016).

    ANZSIC06 does not distinguish between marine- or land-based activities, so we use the proportion of oil and gas production occurring offshore (from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) to derive the offshore minerals estimates.

    Jobs and earning data for the marine economy are sourced from Statistics NZ’s Linked Employee-Employer Dataset.

    Data quality

     Topic Classification Relevance Accuracy
     Impact on the economy  National indicator

    Image, Direct relevance.

    Image, High accuracy.

    See Data quality information for more detail.


    Kildow, JT & McIlgorm, A (2010). The importance of estimating the contribution of the oceans to national economies. Marine Policy, 34, 367–374.

    Suris-Regueiro, JC, Garza-Gil, MD, & Varela-Lafuente, MM (2013). Marine economy: A proposal for its definition in the European Union. Marine Policy, 42, 111–124. 

    Statistics NZ (2016).  New Zealand’s marine economy: 2007–13. Retrieved from

    Archived pages

    See Value of oil and gas and minerals extraction and Value of fisheries and aquaculture (archived October 2016).


    Published 27 October 2016

  • Share this page
  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+