The deliberate dumping of waste and other matter in Australian waters is prohibited, except for some controlled materials.
Under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 (Sea Dumping Act), 'Controlled material’ means:
- wastes or other matter (within the meaning of the Protocol); and
- a vessel, aircraft, or platform.
To dump controlled materials within waters regulated by the Sea Dumping Act, you must apply for a permit.
You can apply to:
- create an artificial reef
- dispose of bulky items from small islands into the sea
- perform a burial at sea
- dispose of carbon dioxide via carbon capture and sequestration at sea*
- dispose dredged or excavated material at sea
- dispose of fish waste at sea
- abandon platforms or other man-made structures at sea
- dump platforms or other man-made structures at sea
- dump vessels at sea
*You will soon be able to apply to dispose of carbon dioxide via carbon capture and sequestration at sea.
Preparing to apply
If you are proposing sea dumping activities, you may also need to talk to other relevant Commonwealth, state, territory, or local government agencies about other regulatory obligations that may apply. These agencies may be responsible for:
- environment protection and conservation management (including quarantine and marine parks)
- fishing and aquaculture
- heritage protection and marine archaeology
- marine transport and navigation safety
- offshore resource management (for example, petroleum, gas and CCS)
- native title
- ports and harbours
Please note: any activities that are within an Australian Marine Park or that could have indirect impacts on an Australian Marine Park will require consultation with the Director of National Parks. Please visit the Marine Parks website for detailed maps and further information. The Marine Parks Authorisations team can be contacted at MarineParksAuthorisations@dcceew.gov.au and will be able to advise whether consultation is required. Early engagement is encouraged to ensure adequate time for consultation and authorisation if required.
You will need to perform a self-assessment of the environmental impacts of your activity. You must also demonstrate that other options for waste management and disposal have been considered. This includes considering the potential impacts of the material on the environment and the potential hazard of contaminants, as well as the technical and economic feasibility for sea dumping.
If you identify any potential significant impacts to Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES), you will need to refer the activity separately under the EPBC Act. This includes significant impacts to Commonwealth marine areas.
Dumping waste in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
To carry out a sea dumping activity within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, you must comply with:
You must apply for a sea dumping permit through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (the Reef Authority). However, you must use the relevant sea dumping application form. Please lodge your application through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact the Reef Authority
Apply for a permit
If your activity requires a permit under the Sea Dumping Act, you must submit an application to the Minister for the Environment and Water.
Things to consider when preparing your application:
- Contact us as early as you can if you need help completing an application.
- By consulting with us early, you will limit the risk that you invest time and resources into a project that needs further development or modification.
- We recommend organising a pre-application meeting with us before submitting your application to discuss the assessment process, timeframes, potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures.
- You can choose to engage a specialist marine consultant to help prepare your sea dumping application and/or environmental impact assessment.
- Sea dumping applications may take over 12 months to be assessed depending on their complexity. You should factor in sufficient time for us to undertake an assessment, well in advance of when you propose to undertake the activity.
- Submitting an application does not guarantee that a sea dumping permit will be granted.
For help, email email@example.com.
Submitting your form and supporting documents
The application form must not be modified in any way. All sections must be completed, otherwise your application will not be accepted.
Once completed, you can submit your application form and supporting documents via:
You can email your application and supporting documents to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are submitting your application by email, the email size limit is 10 MB. If your application and supporting documents are larger than the limit, you may wish to split your attached documents across multiple emails.
Due to Commonwealth cyber security policies, most filesharing sites are blocked by the department’s IT system.
SIGBOX is the department’s preferred file sharing site for the secure upload, download and sharing of multiple and large files. When you are ready to submit your application, please contact us at email@example.com to arrange the creation of your SIGBOX account. Please allow up to 5 business days for this process.
Hard copies can be sent to:
Sea Dumping Section
Environment Approvals Division
Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
GPO Box 3090
Canberra ACT 2601
Fees are set out in the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Regulations 1983. The amount depends on the sea dumping activity.
You must pay the appropriate fee within 30 days of submitting your application. We will not assess a permit application if there are outstanding fees.
|Sea dumping activity||Fee|
|Dredged or excavated material <100,000 m3||$10,000|
|Dredged or excavated material >100,000 m3||$23,500|
|Burial at sea||$1,675|
|Platform or other man-made structure||$12,700|
|Application to vary a permit||$860|
How to pay
Our preferred method of payment is credit card via our online services portal. You can also pay by money order, electronic funds transfer (EFT) or bank cheque.
If your application relates to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Reef Authority will send through an invoice with payment instructions once they receipt the application.
- BSB: 092-009
- Bank Account No: 115859
- Account Name: Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
- Bank: Reserve Bank of Australia
- Bank address: 20-22 London Circuit, Canberra, ACT 2601
- Reference: Application description, applicant name and SD reference number
- Payable to: Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
- Addressed to: GPO Box 3090, CANBERRA, ACT 2601 – Attention: Director, Sea Dumping Section
- Reference: Application description, applicant name and SD reference number
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invoice. Include your contact details, application description, applicant name and SD reference number (provided by the department).
Assessing your application
We take multiple steps to assess your permit application. The steps we take depend on the complexity of your activity, potential impacts to the environment, and the adequacy of the information we receive.
- assess whether the activity, including associated non-marine components, should be referred under the EPBC Act
- request a review of your application by an Independent Technical Consultant
- request additional information where there are gaps in the application.
Grant of a permit
Once we assess your application, we make a recommendation to the Minister for the Environment (or delegate) about whether your activity should be granted a sea dumping permit, and any specific conditions that need to be attached to protect the environment.
How long will it take for me to get my permit?
Submitting a sea dumping application does not guarantee it will be granted.
We assess all applications on a case-by-case basis, and in accordance with the Sea Dumping Act.
When planning project schedules for the dumping activity, make sure you allow enough time for us to assess and process your application. Include the possibility that we may need to stop the clock on your assessment if we need more information from you.
We may extend the assessment time if your proposed activity also needs to be assessed under the EPBC Act.
Stopping the clock on an application
In accordance with the Sea Dumping Act, the minister must grant or refuse to grant a permit within 90 days of receiving a complete application (refer to figure 1).
At any time within the first 60 days of the assessment timeframe, the minister can seek more information from you, to be able to make a decision on your application. If further information is requested, we stop the statutory assessment "clock".
The 90-day assessment period will restart on day 0 from the date we receive the requested information. We may repeat these requests until we have satisfactory information for the minister to make an informed decision on whether to grant the permit.
Once your application is submitted and accepted as ‘duly made’, you will have a decision in 90 days.
‘Duly made’ means:
- all required information has been supplied
- your fee has been paid within the first 30 days of applying.
You should not make project timelines of financial commitments before a permit is granted.
The day you submit the application is day 0.
Department starts review on day 1.
You must pay the fee by day 30.
If more information is needed, you will hear by day 60.
If no more information is needed, you will be told of the decision by day 90.
Between day 0 and day 60, if the more information is required, the clock stops. You can take time to respond, then once the information is submitted, and your application is duly made, the clock starts again at day 0.
The department will let you know the status of your application during the assessment process.
If you have any questions about the process or the information that has been requested, please let us know.
What happens if I dump waste into the sea without a permit?
Any proposed dumping within waters regulated by the Sea Dumping Act requires a permit. Penalties for unlawful activity under the Sea Dumping Act are an indictable offence. Penalties include fines of up to 2,000 penalty units, imprisonment or both.
If you have reason to believe that the Sea Dumping Act has been or is likely to be breached, please contact our compliance area with details of the activity.