New regulations to manage the waste and pollution within New Zealand's vast Exclusive Economic Zone came into effect today.
Environment Minister Nick Smith said the regulations covered discharges of pollutants and waste from offshore installations like oil rigs and ships in the 6 million square kilometres of ocean in the zone and the Continental Shelf.
The Environmental Protection Authority will administer discharges, dumping of waste and burial at sea, while oil spill planning and response will continue to be administered by Maritime New Zealand.
Dr Smith said the new regulations provided clear rules to protect the ocean environment and were the final stage of implementing the Government's new environmental law covering the ocean.
"The new regulations are part of the government's plan for New Zealand to be a world leader in responsible use and management of our ocean environment," Dr Smith said.
"We have a world class fisheries management system with more of our fish stocks certified as sustainable than any other country. We have a robust law for regulating activities like oil, gas and seabed mining.
"We have a growing network of marine reserves and a massive new sanctuary proposed around the Kermadec Islands. The next step will be in updating our marine protected area laws," Dr Smith said.