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About the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf

EEZ map, used with permission of Land Information New Zealand.

The EEZ extends from 12 to 200 nautical miles offshore.  

The Extended Continental Shelf is the area where the seabed and subsoil of New Zealand’s submerged landmass extends beyond the EEZ.  

The EEZ Act

The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (the EEZ Act) came into force on 28 June 2013. The EEZ Act set up a legislative framework for environmental management in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf. Its purpose is to promote the sustainable management of the natural resources in this area and protect the environment from pollution by harmful substances, and dumping or incineration of waste or other matter.

Types of activities managed under the EEZ Act include:

  • prospecting and exploration for petroleum and minerals
  • extraction of petroleum and minerals
  • discharges of harmful substances from offshore installations
  • dumping of waste
  • seismic surveying
  • marine scientific research, prospecting and exploration
  • submarine cabling
  • burials at sea
  • discharge of sediments from prospecting and exploration.

Read the EEZ Act and the EEZ Amendment Act.

Read the EEZ (Environmental Effects - Non-notified Activities) Regulations 2014.

Read the Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015.

The EPA’s role

Learn about the EPA’s role in relation to the EEZ Act.

What are the two processes for a marine consent?

Read about the processes for marine consents.


Guidance for petroleum mining operators on how the EPA will process a request for a Ruling under section 162 of the EEZ Act.

What are the stages in the consent process?

Read about the stages for notified and non-notified marine consent applications.

Types of activities

Read about the different types of activities in the EEZ Act.

Reviewing marine consents and changing conditions

Read about reviewing consents and changes to conditions.

Cost recovery policy

The EEZ Act says the EPA must take all reasonable steps to recover costs incurred. Read our policy for cost recovery.

Engaging with Māori

In making an EEZ application, you will need to consider the effects of your proposed activity on Māori existing interests.

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