Dumping of waste or other matter

Certain waste can be disposed of offshore under a marine dumping consent. It is prohibited to dump some types of waste.

The disposal of waste in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Continental Shelf (CS) is regulated under:

  • the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 
  • the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects - Discharge and Dumping) Regulations 2015.

Factsheet: Offshore dumping: the agencies and what they do (pdf 471KB)

The regulations Plus

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.”

There are restrictions on what can be dumped in the EEZ and CS. Examples of waste that can be dumped with a marine dumping consent include sewage sludge, fish waste, structures, and inert inorganic geological material.

The most common types of material that are disposed of offshore are dredged material from ports and harbours, and vessels.

Five authorised locations are listed in the Dumping and Discharge Regulations 2015. Dumping of dredged material and vessels are non-notified activities in these locations, as opposed to notified activities outside of the authorised locations.

NZ Burials Portrait

To find out more about the rules and regulations view the EEZ regulations in the Related Content section of this page. 

Marine consent for dumping of waste or other matter Plus

Your application for a notified or a non-notified activity will depend on the type of waste and where you are proposing to dump it. You can read further information about notified and non-notified consent processes here.

Dumping of dredged material or vessels outside the authorised locations shown in the map in the section on Regulations is a notified activity. Dumping of structures, such as platforms or wellheads other that 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.

Marine dumping consents

The dumping of waste or other matter needs to comply with the Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015. Prior to submitting a consent contact the EEZ application team to discuss your activities.

The contents of your marine dumping consent application, including the content of 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. 

When lodging a marine discharge consent application with the EPA, you must:

  • fill out the prescribed form
  • fully describe your proposal 
  • provide an impact assessment that meets the requirements of section 39 of the EEZ Act.

Read our guide about applying for a marine dumping consent (PDF 294KB)

Apply for a marine dumping consent



Emergency dumping consent Plus

Under certain circumstances the EPA may grant an emergency dumping consent, under section 20H of the EEZ Act.

For an emergency dumping consent to be issued, the EPA must be satisfied that:

  • an emergency exists, and
  • that the emergency poses an unacceptable risk to human health, safety, or the marine environment, and
  • the dumping of the waste or other matter is necessary to remove or reduce the risk, and
  • there is no feasible alternative to the dumping of the waste or other matter.

Before granting an emergency consent the EPA will consult with Maritime New Zealand and notify the International Maritime Organization.

If an emergency dumping consent is granted there may be conditions imposed on the consent, which may include monitoring and reporting requirements.

Contact the EEZ Applications team if you need to apply for an emergency dumping consent.

Monitoring and compliance Plus

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 the operator to report on these matters to the EPA as a condition of the consent.

Other consent conditions may also be imposed on your activity under a marine dumping consent. These may include requirements to monitor the effects of the dumping activity.

We monitor compliance with the EEZ Act, relevant regulations and consent conditions.

Find out more about compliance monitoring in the EEZ