The Government is currently consulting on proposals for regulating exploratory drilling for oil and gas, discharges of harmful substances from offshore structures and production facilities on mineral mining ships, and dumping of waste in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). A copy of the discussion document is available here.

The discussion document addresses two key issues:

  • whether the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act) should be amended to introduce a non-notified discretionary activity classification (with regulations to include offshore exploration drilling within this category); and
  • the proposed transfer of the regulation of the discharge of harmful substances from offshore structures and production facilities on ships (and the dumping of waste) from Maritime New Zealand to the EPA (and the appropriate classification of those activities under the EEZ Act).

These proposals have been introduced by way of a Supplementary Order Paper to theMarine Legislation Bill which is currently before Parliament. Although that Bill is currently awaiting its committee stage and third reading, it is expected to be enacted in the near future.