New Zealand receives applications from other countries seeking to undertake marine scientific research (MSR) in the New Zealand Territorial Sea, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (the Convention) establishes a comprehensive regime for the law of the sea. Under the Convention, every State has the right to conduct marine scientific research, subject to the rights and duties of the coastal State in whose jurisdiction the research is being conducted. Coastal States have the exclusive right to regulate, authorise and conduct MSR in their Territorial Sea. For MSR in their EEZ or Continental Shelf however, in normal circumstances, States shall grant their consent although certain conditions may be attached.

Applying for consent to undertake MSR in New Zealand's waters

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on behalf of the New Zealand Government receives and manages MSR applications from New Zealanders seeking to undertake MSR in waters under the national jurisdiction of other States, and people from other countries seeking to undertake MSR in New Zealand’s Territorial Sea, EEZ and Continental Shelf. 

Under the Convention all States or competent international organisations proposing to conduct MSR shall provide, at least six (6) months in advance of the expected starting date of research activities, a full description of the proposed research project to the relevant coastal State.

How to submit your application for consent to undertake MSR in New Zealand

Applications to undertake MSR in New Zealand’s Territorial Sea, EEZ and Continental shelf must be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Embassy of your country accredited to New Zealand.

Applications must be lodged a clear six (6) months in advance of the expected start date of the voyage.

Applications are assessed by MFAT in consultation with other relevant New Zealand Government departments and agencies. As part of this process, the application and any related material provided by the applicant is disclosed/provided to other relevant departments and agencies for the purpose of assessing the application and the determination of conditions to be imposed. During this consultation process, MFAT may request additional information from the applicant for the purposes of assessing the application.

Applications to undertake MSR in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone or Continental Shelf

MSR is a permitted activity under New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act) provided that the conditions set out in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects – Permitted Activities) Regulations 2013 are complied with.
The EEZ Act provides an exemption from its requirements for government owned and operated vessels that are undertaking MSR for “wholly government purposes”.

To find out more about the requirements set out in the Regulations and the actions to be taken, researchers are advised to refer to the Environmental Protection Authority's website (external link). Information about the Act can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website (external link).

Applications to undertake MSR in New Zealand's Territorial Sea

MSR in the Territorial Sea may only be conducted with the express consent of and under the conditions set forth by the coastal State (art. 245 of the Convention). Where foreign applicants seek to undertake MSR in New Zealand’s Territorial Sea, they will need to comply with any conditions required by Regional Councils in whose territory the MSR is proposed to take place. Councils will assess the application against their Coastal and Operative Plans under the Resource Management Act 1991 and determine whether the application is authorised or declined, what conditions need to be complied with if the voyage is authorised and/or whether resource consent is required for the voyage to proceed. Councils may also advise that consultation with Iwi is required before the voyage can proceed.

Complying with New Zealand's Biosecurity Act 1993 and Regulations

There are legal requirements on vessels arriving in New Zealand’s waters under New Zealand’s Biosecurity Act. The biosecurity website of the Ministry for Primary Industries (http://www.mpi.govt.nz/importing/border-clearance/vessels/ (external link)) has further information on the requirements for a vessel prior to arrival.

From May 2018, all vessels must arrive in New Zealand with a "clean hull". Further information on hull requirements for vessels entering New Zealand can be found at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/importing/border-clearance/vessels/ (external link).

Provision of MSR data, samples and results to New Zealand

The Convention places a duty on vessels conducting MSR to comply with certain conditions, in particular, requests from the coastal State in whose EEZ and/or continental shelf the research is being conducted. This includes complying with requests from the coastal State for preliminary reports and final results and conclusions of the research conducted, as well as providing the coastal State with access to all data and samples derived from the research, together with an assessment of such data, samples and research results (or assistance in such assessment).

Accordingly, copies of all voyage reports, data collected and reports prepared based on data and samples collected in areas under New Zealand’s jurisdiction as well as geological and biological samples, where they can be divided without detriment to their scientific value, are to be submitted to the New Zealand Government MSR-NZ@linz.govt.nz in an acceptable form, as soon as possible, and in any case within a 12 month period, after the conclusion of the voyage.

Information about arrangements for the submision of reports, data and samples, data formats and metadata can be found here: https://www.linz.govt.nz/sea/marine-scientific-research/information-for-researchers (external link).

Where the New Zealand EEZ Act applies to the MSR voyage, additional reporting requirements will need to be complied with including provision of reports within 60 days of completion of the voyage to the Environmental Protection Authority.

Information about previous voyages

Information about previous voyages (reports, access to data etc.) can be found here: https://www.linz.govt.nz/sea/marine-scientific-research/voyage-information (external link).