Role of the EPA and other agencies

This page has information about the roles of the government agencies and regional councils that manage mining, discharge and dumping activities in New Zealand waters.

The Environmental Protection Authority

We are responsible for managing the effects of specified restricted activities on the environment in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf under the EEZ Act. We consider applications for marine consents, monitor compliance, carry out enforcement, and promote public awareness of the requirements of the EEZ Act and associated regulations.

Factsheet: Our role in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (pdf 273 KB)

Factsheet: The types of activity we regulate in New Zealand's offshore waters (pdf 225KB)

New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals

New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals (NZP&​M) manages the Government's oil, gas, mineral and coal resources in accordance with the Crown Minerals Act 1991. It processes and monitors prospecting, exploration and mining permits.

Before granting a permit NZP&M assesses an operator’s technical and financial capability, and compliance history, and undertakes a preliminary, high-level assessment of the operator’s capability and systems that are likely to be required to meet applicable health, safety and environmental legislation.

Maritime New Zealand 

Maritime New Zealand (M​NZ) is responsible for ensuring operators have plans in place to manage the waste from their work, as well as emergency response plans if that work causes a leak or spill into the sea.

For oil and gas work, the emergency response plan needs to include how the operator would stem the flow of oil in the unlikely event of a well blowout. MNZ is also responsible for maintaining New Zealand’s oil spill response capability and preparedness, and for coordinating any major, national-level oil spill responses.

The Ministry for the Environment 

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) is responsible for developing environmental policy and administering the legislation and regulations that apply to the EEZ and New Zealand's territorial waters.

This includes the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act) and the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

WorkSafe New Zealand 

WorkSafe New Zealand is responsible for the rules that ensure the oil ‘stays in the pipe’ and that the risk of a well failure is as low as reasonably practicable.

It does this by accepting an operator’s safety case and well operations’ notice, which ensures that a well is managed through its lifecycle in relation to its design, construction, operation, maintenance, modification, suspension and abandonment.

The Department of Conservation

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is responsible for protected species under the Wildlife Act 1953 and Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978. DOC prepares and administers the guidelines for minimising disturbance to marine mammals from seismic survey, as well as seismic surveying regulations in marine mammal sanctuaries.

Independent, ​​qualified visual and acoustic monitoring professionals are required to be on board seismic surveying vessels to ensure that the survey follows the mitigation requirements specified in the Marine Mammal Impact Assessment (MMIA).

Regional councils

Regional councils are responsible under the RMA for managing the effects of activities on the environment in territorial waters (0 to 12 nautical miles offshore).

Resource consents are usually required under the RMA for petroleum and mineral activities. Some applications may be referred to the Environment Court or to Boards of Inquiry for an assessment and decision.

Other agencies

Several other government agencies also have roles and responsibilities. For example, the Ministry for Primary Industries enforces standards of cleanliness for incoming vessels, rigs or equipment, including biofouling on ships’ hulls.