The Ministry of Transport works closely with pipeline and cable owners and operators to protect undersea pipelines and cables. The Ministry actively prosecutes vessels who breach the restrictions in protected areas.
Submarine cables and pipelines around New Zealand carry our electricity, telecommunications and energy resources such as oil and gas. These cables are vital to New Zealand’s power and communications systems and to the New Zealand economy.
Fishing or anchoring around these cables can potentially cause them serious harm.
Hooking a cable with a fishing line or lightweight anchor can do real damage to a cable’s protective outer layer. Damage to cables can run the risk of power cuts and telecommunications service outages, which can take a lot of time and money to fix.
Cable Protection Zones
Eleven cable protection areas (commonly known as Cable Protection Zones or CPZs) have been established around the country. These CPZs ban all anchoring and most types of fishing to prevent cable damage.
Cable Protection Zones
- Area 1: Great Barrier Island
- Area 2: Hauraki Gulf
- Area 3: Kawau Island
- Area 4: Whangaparoa Peninsula
- Area 5: Muruwai Beach
- Area 6: Takaroa
- Area 7: Cook Strait
- Area 8: Oaonui
- Area 9: Hawke’s Bay
- Area 10: Maui A & B
- Pohokura Protection Area (no number)
It is important for recreational and commercial boat users and fishers to be mindful of the rules for fishing in areas where undersea cables are present.
The Ministry (on behalf of the Transport Minister) is responsible for prosecuting offenders against the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996(external link).
The Ministry of Transport works closely with cable operators and owners, and the Ministry actively prosecutes offenders. In addition to risking court time, offenders are subject to substantial fines, plus costs, for offences against the submarine cables legislation.
There are maximum fines of $100,000 for fishing or anchoring where commercial gain is involved, or $20,000 in other cases. Fines of $2,000, plus significant legal fees and Court costs, for offences by recreational boat users are not uncommon.
Cable owners and operators
Cable owners such as Transpower, Telecom and Southern Cross Cables are very keen to protect their cables, which can cost many millions of dollars and months to repair. CPZs are patrolled in some cases by ship and helicopters 24/7 with protection officers and Maritime Police, so offenders run a high risk of being caught.
How to apply to protect submarine cables and pipelines
The process for establishing a protected area is specified in section 12 of the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996. Application for a protected area should be made to:
Ministry of Transport
PO Box 3175
Phone: +64 4 439 9000
The application should include details about:
- the area to be protected
- the proposed construction of the cable or pipeline
- the purpose for the cable or pipeline
- the timeframe for laying the cable or pipeline
- the consultation undertaken by the operator to satisfy the requirements of section 12(2) of the Act
Under section 12(3) of the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996, the Order in Council may apply differently for different ship types or types of fishing operation. Any exemptions or variations from the standard prohibitions under the Act that may arise as a result of consultation with the fishing industry should be addressed in the application as well.