Enhancing our submarine cable and pipeline protection areas guidance

23 November 2021

Whether you are a commercial operator or recreational boatie, it is essential that you avoid New Zealand’s submarine (undersea) cable and pipeline protection areas (CPAs).

Submarine cables and pipelines carry our electricity, national and international communications and energy resources, such as oil and gas. These cables and pipelines are vital to New Zealand’s power and communications systems and to New Zealand’s economy.

Fishing or anchoring around submarine cables and pipelines can potentially cause them serious damage. Even hooking a cable or pipeline with a fishing line, or lightweight anchor, can do real damage to the protective outer layer. Damage to cables and pipelines runs the risk of power cuts and communications service outages, which can take a lot of time and money to fix.

Maritime NZ works closely with other agencies, owners and operators to protect submarine cables and pipelines. Te Manatū Waka - Ministry of Transport is responsible for prosecuting vessels that breach the restrictions in protected areas.

Today, Maritime NZ has released enhanced guidance on its website to ensure everyone enjoying water activities is aware of the submarine cable and pipeline protection areas (CPAs). The guidance explains the importance of ensuring submarine cables and pipelines are not damaged, for example, when anchoring or fishing, and how to make an application under the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996 (SCAPPA).

“Generally, all fishing and anchoring activities are illegal within submarine cable and pipeline protection areas,” said Kenny Crawford, Deputy Director Maritime Systems Assurance at Maritime NZ

“If a net, line, rope, chain or any other thing used for fishing or anchoring is observed being towed by, or operated or suspended from, a vessel of any size in a protected area, it will be presumed that fishing or anchoring is being conducted. Failure to comply with the law may lead to significant fines and forfeiture of vessel.”

The enhanced guidance also provides a ready reference for owners and operators of cables and pipelines.

Cable and pipeline owners, such as Transpower, Spark and Southern Cross Cables, spend millions of dollars each year to protect the submarine cables and pipelines.

“Any damage could take months to repair. Some CPAs are patrolled by ship and helicopters 24/7 with protection officers and Maritime Police, so offenders are likely to get caught,” said Mr Crawford.

So when you next head out on the water, pay attention to your location and avoid any activity over the submarine cable and pipeline protection areas.

Summary of Submarine Cable and Pipeline Protection Areas (CPAs)

All anchoring and most types of fishing are banned in CPAs to prevent cable and pipeline damage:

  • Area 1: Great Barrier Island
  • Area 2: Hauraki Gulf
  • Area 3: Kawau Island
  • Area 4: Whangaparaoa Peninsula
  • Area 5: Muriwai Beach
  • Area 6: Takaroa
  • Area 7: Cook Strait
  • Area 8: Oaonui
  • Area 9: Hawke Bay
  • Area 10: Maui A & B
  • Kupe Gas Project Protected Area
  • Maari Development Protected Area
  • Tui Area Development Protected Area
  • Pohokura Protected Area
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