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Dumping waste

If you are dumping waste or other matter in the EEZ, you may require a marine consent from the EPA. The information below explains what can be dumped in the EEZ, where it can be dumped and how this is managed.

The disposal of waste in New Zealand’s EEZ is managed by the EPA under the EEZ Act and the Discharge and Dumping Regulations.

New Zealand is a signatory to the 1996 London Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972. The aim of the protocol is to “protect and preserve the marine environment from all sources of pollution and take effective measures (according to scientific, technical and economic capabilities) to prevent, reduce and where practicable eliminate pollution caused by dumping or incineration at sea of wastes or other matter.”

Dumping of the following material at sea is allowed if authorised by a marine consent:

  • Fish waste
  • Sewage sludge
  • Organic material, such as animal and vegetable matter
  • Structures
  • Dredged material
  • Vessels
  • Carbon dioxide streams
  • Inert, inorganic geological material, such as waste resulting from onshore mining activities
  • Bulky, solid waste, such as iron, steel and concrete

The most common types of material that are disposed of are dredge spoil from ports and harbours, and decommissioned vessels.

There are five existing explosives dumping grounds in the EEZ and these are the preferred locations for dumping of waste. Dumping in the EEZ outside of these areas is possible, but any such proposal will require a greater level of environmental impact assessment and justification as to why existing sites cannot be used. If a consent to dump waste outside one of these areas is granted, it is likely to have more requirements around environmental monitoring.

EEZ authorized dumping sites.

Applying for a marine dumping consent

Your application will be a notified or non-notified activity depending on the type of waste that you intend to dump. You can read further information about the notified and non-notified marine consent process here.

Dumping of dredged material or vessels outside one of the authorised locations listed above is a notified activity. Dumping of structures, such as platforms or wellheads other than those placed for the purpose of mineral exploration, is also a notified activity.

Dumping of waste, such as fish waste and sewage sludge, and the dumping of dredged material or vessels within an authorised location is a non-notified activity.

The contents of your marine dumping consent application, including your impact assessment, will depend on the type of activities you plan to undertake, the environment you are operating in, and the likely effects of your activity.

Your impact assessment must be prepared in accordance with section 87B of the EEZ Act and should address the relevant matters in section 87D of the EEZ Act.

Read the guidance on applying for a marine consent to dump waste

Apply for a marine dumping consent to undertake a notified or non-notified discretionary activity

For further information, contact the EPA.

Monitoring dumping activity

New Zealand is required to annually provide the International Maritime Organisation with information about the nature and quantity of waste that is disposed of as part of a marine dumping consent. That information includes, where known, information about the location and method of dumping. All marine dumping consents granted under the EEZ Act require that the operator report on these matters to the EPA as a condition of the consent.

Other potential conditions may include requirements around monitoring the effects of the dumping activity.

Read the EPA's approach to compliance

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