Maritime NZ issues marine oil spill strategy

Namely, the purpose of the report is to boost New Zealand’s planned responses to marine oil spills at shipboard, site, regional, and national levels, while identify any delegated powers and the responsibilities of all those involved in oil spill incident response.

In light of the situation, New Zealand has implemented a three-tiered approach to all aspects of marine oil spill preparation and response:

  • define and structure levels of oil spill response capabilities; this approach is not used to categorise the size or scope of a spill.
  • plan for appropriate resources to be rapidly mobilised and cascaded to an incident location.
  • enable response escalation for an oil spill of any magnitude.


According to the report, Tier 1 oil spills are responded to and resolved by the operator. Oil spill response capability is based on risk. The level of response is expected to consist of a timely ‘first strike’ and includes the capacity to assist if there is an escalation to a Tier 2 or Tier 3 response.

What is more, Tier 2 oil spills are generally those beyond the capability of the operator acting alone and the response is led and resolved by the local regional council. The specific capacity required by the regional council is based on the risks at its location.

Following there, Tier 3 oil spills are generally more complex, of longer duration and impact, and beyond the response capability of the regional council or operator. The response is nationally led and coordinated by Maritime NZ.

This strategy applies to marine oil spills in:

  • The internal waters of New Zealand (landward of the boundary of the territorial sea to the low water mark), but only to instances where a spill would inevitably reach marine waters such as spills from vessels or industrial sites on rivers.
  • New Zealand marine waters (from the baseline to 200 nautical miles, comprising the territorial sea and exclusive economic zone).
  • The waters beyond the outer limits of the exclusive economic zone but over the continental shelf of New Zealand.

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