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Marine consent and permitted activities

A marine consent is an approval granted by the EPA to undertake an activity managed by the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act).

Some activities managed under the Act are permitted, which means they don’t need a marine consent. However, many of these activities are permitted only if specified conditions are met. 

The permitted activities include:

  • Seismic surveying
  • Marine scientific research
  • Submarine cabling
  • Prospecting for petroleum and minerals
  • Exploration for minerals (excluding drilling for petroleum).

All other activity managed under the EEZ Act is termed discretionary and needs a marine consent. The following activities need a marine consent before they can occur:  

  • the construction, placement, alteration, extension, removal, or demolition of a structure on or under the seabed
  • the construction, placement, alteration, extension, removal, or demolition of a submarine pipeline on or under the seabed
  • the placement, alteration, extension, or removal of a submarine cable on or from the seabed
  • the removal of non-living natural material from the seabed or subsoil:
  • the disturbance of the seabed or subsoil in a manner that is likely to have an adverse effect on the seabed or subsoil
  • the deposit of any thing or organism in, on, or under the seabed
  • the destruction, damage, or disturbance of the seabed or subsoil in a manner that is likely to have an adverse effect on marine species or their habitat.

An application for a marine consent is also required for activities that involve:

  • the construction, mooring or anchoring long-term, placement, alteration, extension, removal, or demolition of a structure or part of a structure
  • the causing of vibrations (other than vibrations caused by the normal operation of a ship) in a manner that is likely to have an adverse effect on marine life
  • the causing of an explosion.
In addition, discharges from offshore installations and dumping in the EEZ and Continental Shelf will be managed by the EEZ Act if proposed legislative changes are enacted.