The Minister of Environmental Affairs published the Dumping at Sea Regulations ("the Regulations") in terms of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act on 21 July 2017. The Regulations govern the planned and emergency dumping of waste at sea from a vessel, platform or aircraft.

Dumping at sea

Any person that intends dumping waste at sea must apply to the Minister for a dumping permit at least 90 days prior to the intended dumping. The application must include all the information specified in the Regulations as well as any other information specified on the pro forma application form.

The relevant information includes amongst other information:

  • The type of waste or other material intended for dumping;

  • A detailed description and characterization of the waste or other material intended for dumping;

  • The chemical, physical and biological composition and properties of the waste or other material intended for dumping;

  • Details of the applicant;

  • The volume or mass of the waste or other material intended for dumping;

  • The location where the waste or other material will be dumped; and

  • Details of the platform, vessel or aircraft from which the waste or other material will be dumped as well as the details of the master of the vessel, owner of the platform or pilot in command.

Most importantly, the applicant must demonstrate how the waste cannot be re-used, recycled, the hazardous constituents destructed, treated to reduce or remove hazardous components or disposed of to land.

To the extent that the application is missing any information or is submitted within 90 days of the intended dumping date, the application will be deemed incomplete and will not be considered.

Emergency dumping at sea

The Regulations also permit the dumping of waste or mother material at sea in emergency situations with the consent of the Minister. Where the waste must be dumped immediately, the Minister may give verbal permission for the waste to be dumped.

In other emergency dumping situations (which do not require that the waste be dumped immediately), an application must be submitted to the Minister in the prescribed form and must include a motivation as to why the proposed dumping is necessary to avert an emergency that poses an unacceptable risk to human health and / or the environment and that there are no alternative solutions. The emergency dumping will also require the support of the South African Maritime Safety Authority.

Assessment of applications

The Minister may either accept or reject an application for a dumping permit or an emergency dumping permit taking into consideration:

  • whether the applicant has been convicted of contravening the Act or any other environmental legislation;

  • whether the applicant has contravened conditions of any prior dumping permits;

  • the national action list for the screening of dredged material proposed for maritime disposal; and

  • any other factor.

Before making this decision, the Minister may require that the applicant provide additional information, request that the applicant carry out further investigations or request that the applicant consult with specific organizations, authorities, persons or interested and affected parties and submit reports detailing the outcomes of this consultation to the Minister.


Where dumping has occurred without a verbal authorisation or permit or in contravention of any condition of a dumping permit, the responsible person or the permit holder must immediately inform the Minister in writing and provide a detailed written report describing the circumstances leading to the dumping.

Offences and Penalties

In addition to any offences in terms of the Act a person who contravenes the regulations is liable on conviction to imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and / or a fine not exceeding R2 million.