Marine Mammals Protection Act

Marine mammal sanctuaries can contain restrictions on extractive industry-related activities. For example, the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary restricts seabed mining in certain places and puts stringent conditions on seismic surveying. 2225

The Department of Conservation’s 2013 Code of Conduct for Minimising Acoustic Disturbance to Marine Mammals from Seismic Survey Operations’ was developed in conjunction with international and domestic stakeholders representing industry, operators, observers and marine scientists. In 2018, the Code is undergoing a review. Its purpose is to provide effective and practical mitigation measures for minimising acoustic disturbance of marine mammals during seismic surveys. The Code has been endorsed as industry best practice by Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ). 

There are requirements in this Code for carrying out seismic surveying in a Marine Mammal Sanctuary (as defined in section 22 of the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978), where compliance with the Code is compulsory. The Code states that “particular attention needs to be given to minimising effects where surveys are planned in any of the Areas of Ecological Importance (which includes the marine mammal sanctuaries)”. In addition, no person may carry out a marine seismic survey within a Marine Mammal Sanctuary “unless he or she has, at the earliest opportunity but not less than three months before commencing the survey:

  • Notified the Director-General in writing of his or her intention to carry it out
  • Submitted a written environmental impact assessment, and subsequently
  • Agreed to comply with any additional conditions, such as increasing the mitigation zones or number of qualified observers required, imposed by the Director-General for operating in a Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

Map of Areas of Ecological Importance (Source: Department of Conservation 2226 )


Last updated at 3:29PM on February 11, 2018