BlueSky Beginnings

All great things, such as the Axford Fellowship, must end. With that ending I had the opportunity to start anew. After long and careful consideration I decided to start a law and conflict resolution firm to help resolve and reduce environmental, water, and energy conflicts. Thus, BlueSky Mediation & Law is born from a phenomenal experience helping New Zealand think how it might resolve its 30-year conflict over coastal space allocation.

Axford Fellowship: Final Report and Radio Interview

Fulbright New Zealand has uploaded a final version of my report on how New Zealand can encourage marine renewable energy development and reduce coastal conflict. It is available by clicking here.

I was also interviewed on the national Sunday morning radio show by Chris Laidlaw about my work as an Axford Fellow.  You can hear the podcast by clicking the previous link or directly by clicking here.

Axford Fellowship Presentation

Kia Ora and Thank You

I am grateful for the amazing support of numerous individuals. Notable among these are colleagues and friends at Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) who generously hosted me for seven months. Among this team, Nathan Ross provided towering support and welcomed us as family. Rose Feary, Gaynor Jessep, and Tania Hood kindly offered substantive feedback and sacrificed time to do so. Mike Underhill, EECA CEO, and Rachel Brown, his indomitable assistant, deserve special
mention for taking a keen interest and facilitating discussions with key people.

The US Ambassador, David Huebner, graciously offered his time and genuine interest in renewable energy to talk about my project. Likewise, Peter Tinsley and Andrew Warden generously offered important perspectives into my proposed recommendations.

The Fulbright New Zealand staff, especially Stefanie Joe, Mele Wendt, and Andy Mitchell, proved indispensable in orientating us to Wellington, supporting our fellowships, and ensuring our success.

I am also grateful for the guidance Michael Harte and John Huckerby provided. As mentors on this project they offered excellent insight, important feedback, and helpful suggestions that strengthened the end result.

I owe special thanks as well to Che “Little Phil” Wilson and Darryn Ratana whose interest and support for my ideas buoyed my confidence in my proposals and helped me present my ideas to important decision makers.

I am grateful as well to Matanuku Mahuika, Nici Gibbs, Tom McClurg, Dan Brown, Sam Fleming, Mike McGinnis, and Geoff Simmons, all of whom provided important feedback at critical junctures. Likewise, I am indebted to all the individuals who generously gave their time for me to interview them.
To Rachel Palmer and Shri Sharma I owe a few lifetimes of gratitude for opening their home to my wife and I. They indeed embody noble generosity.

My gratitude to Katie, my wife, goes beyond measure. Without her unconditional support, love, and trust this fellowship would not have been possible.

Ian Boisvert
Wellington, August 2011

The Potential for Tradable Occupation to Encourage Ocean Renewable Energy Devlopment in New Zealand

When I came to New Zealand my mission was to help design a spatial allocation system specific to marine rewewable energy projects because there is a significant challenge for New Zealand marine renewable developers to get coastal space access. The only way developers can gain access is applying for a coastal permit through which a Regional Council (New Zealand's regional government bodies for allocating coastal space, among other things) allocates space. Inevitably, conflict arises because Regional Councils can displace any existing users against their wishes. Thus coastal permits tend to inflame rather than quell conflict.

This discourages marine renewable development in three ways. Because a Regional Council can displace existing users, those users will litigate to frustrate an applicant’s plans. Second, Regional Councils vary both in resources and expertise to make informed decisions about governing ocean space as well as how inclined they are to recognise their region’s ocean renewable energy sources. Third, the combination of these issues raises uncertainty for ocean power developers thereby making it difficult to raise project capital.

So my mission changed from designing a spatial allocation regime specific to marine renewable devices to creating a system that would promote robust negotiations, more secure rights, and relationship building. Thus I came up with three policy recommendations.

First, offshore renewable energy developers, as a group, should convene a meeting with existing ocean users. The meeting should focus on how commercial ocean users might resolve conflict ahead of applying for a coastal permit. As newcomers, offshore developers have the burden of making themselves welcome in a long-standing community.

Second, Regional Councils should officially inventory and support their regional offshore renewable resources, and central government should support the councils by conducting a comprehensive environmental assessment of offshore renewable power development.

Resolving coastal space conflict is the third and most critical solution because it will increase efficiency and transparency, reduce economic waste, and build a new market for public revenues. I propose New Zealand create a regime of constrained Tradable Occupation Rights (TORs). TORs would allow users to allocate marine space between themselves contingent on not violating ecological thresholds still set through coastal permits. Expanding coastal occupation rights would allow users to resolve space allocation across sectors rather than just within one sector as currently happens. It would thus encourage cooperation rather than conflict. TORs could build a new market that could be taxed to generate public revenue specifically to fund ocean policy and governance. In short, TORs could significantly reduce economic waste and conflict inherent in the existing coastal allocation process while remunerating the public for commercial use of the resource.

So far these policy recommendations have been well-received. This past week I met with New Zealand's Acting Energy Minister, Hekia Parata, and an MP for the Maori Party, Rahui Katene. Hon H. Parata generously listened to these ideas and suggested I should also discuss them with New Zealand's Attorney General, Chris Finlayson, and Minister for the Environment, Dr. Nick Smith. And this week I am attending a conference of leaders of Maori groups (iwi) from across the nation. Such results are more than I could have hoped for at the beginning of the fellowship.

Sunset Over Raglan

As I end this journey with New Zealand marine energy I am struck by how willing and generous New Zealanders of all ranks are with their time and energy. Based on that alone I believe that New Zealand has the basis to overcome its deep coastal space conflict issues over time.

If you are in New Zealand, I warmly invite you to attend my public presentation in Wellington:
12:30-1:30pm, Friday 26 August
Te Waahi KĊrero Room, State Services Commission

Level 5, 100 Molesworth Street
IPANZ members register online at; non-members RSVP to

A link to my full paper, available on August 26, 2010, is here.