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Why we need to protect the cables

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. Even hooking a cable with a fishing line or lightweight anchor can do real damage to a cable’s protective outer layer. Damage to cables runs the risk of power cuts and telecommunications service outages, which can take a lot of time and money to fix.

Cable Protection Areas

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

  • Area 1: Great Barrier Island
  • Area 2: Hauraki Gulf
  • Area 3: Kawau Island
  • Area 4: Whangaparoa Peninsula
  • Area 5: Muriwai Beach
  • Area 6: Takaroa
  • Area 7: Cook Strait
  • Area 8: Oaonui
  • Area 9: Hawke’s Bay
  • Area 10: Maui A & B

If you fish or anchor where cables are present

It is important for recreational and commercial boat users and fishers to understand the rules for fishing in areas where undersea cables are present.

Cable owners such as Transpower, Spark and Southern Cross Cables protect their cables, which can cost many millions of dollars and 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.

On behalf of the Minister of Transport, we are responsible for prosecuting offenders. We work closely with pipeline and cable owners and operators to protect undersea pipelines and cables, and actively prosecute vessels that breach the restrictions in protected areas.

Offenders are subject to substantial fines, plus costs, for offences against the submarine cables legislation.

 Fishing or anchoring in these zones can attract fines as much as:

  • NZD$20,000, plus significant legal fees and court costs, for offences by recreational boat users
  • NZD$100,000 for fishing or anchoring where commercial gain is involved, or
  • NZD$20,000 in other cases.

The purpose of the Te Manatū Waka Prosecution and Warning Policy is to set out the guidelines and standards to be followed by Ministry staff in deciding whether to prosecute or warn, and in conducting prosecutions or sending warning letters.


Prosecutions and Warnings Policy  [PDF, 343 KB]


Cook Strait cable maps: Are you cable conscious?(external link)

How to apply to establish a CPA

The process for establishing a protected area is specified in section 12 of the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996.

Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996(external link)

You apply to:

Ministry of Transport
PO Box 3175
New Zealand

Telephone: +64 4 439 9000

What to include in your application

Your application should include details about the:

  • area to be protected
  • proposed construction of the cable or pipeline
  • purpose for the cable or pipeline
  • timeframe for laying the cable or pipeline
  • consultation you undertook to satisfy the requirements of section 12(2) of the Act.

Different types of ships or fishing operations may be eligible for exemptions or variations from the standard prohibitions under the Act. These may arise as a result of consultation with the fishing industry, for example, and you should include these details in your application.