This page provides an overview of the regulations under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012. It includes information about how activities are classified.
Regulations in force
Permitted activities and cost recovery
The first set of regulations under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (the Act) came into force on 28 June 2013.
These are the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects—Permitted Activities) Regulations 2013 [New Zealand Legislation website].
- regulations classifying certain activities as permitted - these cover section 20 activities carried out as part of:
- seismic surveying
- prospecting and exploration phases of seabed mineral mining and petroleum (excluding exploratory oil and gas drilling)
- submarine cabling
- marine scientific research
- regulations for cost recovery - for the Environmental Protection Authority’s functions under the Act.
These regulations were amended in 2016 and 2018 to cover deposits of material on the seabed from the launch of space vehicles.
Exploratory oil and gas drilling
A set of regulations covering exploratory oil and gas drilling came into force on 28 February 2014.
These are the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects— Non–notified Activities) Regulations 2014 [New Zealand Legislation website]
Discharge of harmful substances, dumping of waste and burial at sea
Two sets of regulations, covering the discharge of harmful substances from offshore structures, dumping of waste, and burial at sea, came into force on 31 October 2015.
These are the:
Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects—Discharge and Dumping) Regulations 2015 [New Zealand Legislation website]
Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects—Burial at Sea) Regulations 2015 [New Zealand Legislation website]
For a full list of regulations under the Act, see the Related legislation section at the end of this page.
Documents incorporated by reference under the Act
Under the EEZ permitted activities regulations, seismic surveying operators are required to comply with the Department of Conservation's:
Code of conduct for minimising acoustic disturbance to marine mammals from seismic survey operations [Department of Conservation website]
Under the Act, regulations can to be made to classify activities and set out specific standards and requirements.
The Government intends that the regulation of activities be:
- proportionate to their likely environmental effect and the effect on existing interests
- cost effective
- consistent with our international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Act allows the Minister for the Environment to classify activities as:
The activity can be undertaken provided the operator meets conditions specified in regulations.
Activities can be undertaken if applicants obtain a marine consent from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). The EPA may grant or decline consent and place conditions on the consent. The consent application will not be publicly notified.
Activities can be undertaken if applicants obtain a marine consent from the relevant marine consent authority (EPA, or Board of Inquiry from 1 June 2017). The marine consent authority may decline or grant a consent and place conditions on the consent. The consent application will be publicly notified, submissions will be invited and hearings will be held if requested by any party including submitters.
The activity may not be undertaken.
The classification chosen will depend on a number of considerations outlined in section 33 of the Act including the environmental effects of the activity, the importance of protecting rare and vulnerable ecosystems and the economic benefit to New Zealand of an activity.