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Boat sewage discharges

Treat it, flush it offshore or pump it out.

​Why you need to discharge boat sewage properly

Untreated sewage can contaminate the shellfish we eat, or make water unsafe for swimming for a long time after it is discharged.

If you are a boat owner, play your part in protecting our harbours by disposing of your boat sewage properly.

Where to discharge

If you need to discharge untreated sewage from a boat, make sure you are underway, well offshore, in open water and away from other boats.

You must be:

  • in water more than 5m deep
  • more than 500m from shore
  • more than 500m from a marine farm
  • more than 500m from a customary fishing reserve (mataitai)
  • more than 200m from a marine reserve.

Our rules also specify that you cannot discharge in:

  • Waitemata Harbour
  • Mahurangi Harbour
  • Bostaquet Bay, Kawau Island
  • Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island
  • Nagle Cove, Great Barrier Island
  • Tryphena Harbour, Great Barrier Island.

The rules are set out in the Coastal Chapter of the Auckland Unitary Plan (PDF 1,192KB). See rule F2.19.7(A58) and standard F2.21.8.2.

For further information, see our brochure on boat sewage discharges.

​Boat sewage app

A free phone app is available from the Northland Regional Council website. It shows your location in relation to the Northland and Auckland sewage discharge restriction areas.

How you can meet our sewage rules

  • Use toilets on shore before you depart.
  • Fit a holding tank.
  • Use pump-out facilities where available, such as those at many of Auckland’s marinas.
  • Install a treatment system for your boat.

Treated sewage can be discharged in most areas away from marine farms, with different requirements depending on whether the treatment system is Grade A or Grade B.

For more on treatment grades, see the Resource Management (Marine Pollution) Regulations 1998.

Other marine pollution


No rubbish can be dumped in the sea or on land. Take your rubbish home.

Oil spills

Deal with spills of oil or fuel from your boat immediately and clean them using special sorbent material. You can buy sorbent pads from most chandlers or marine stores.

Dispose of any oil or oily waste at your local transfer station or through a waste contractor.

Report spills of oil, petrol or diesel to the Harbourmaster duty officer on 09 362 0397.

Cleaning debris

When you clean your boat hull, make sure you collect any contaminant material or debris and remove it from the foreshore, seabed and water.

Use collection devices such as ground covers, nettings, or suction pumps for debris located in water.

Antifouling paint

Use low impact antifouling products, such as non-copper, low copper formulation or low copper release antifouling paint.

For more information, see the brochure on Safely using antifouling paints (PDF 4.1MB) at the Environmental Protection Authority website.

More information

Download the Ministry for the Environment Sewage systems for recreational boats  guide.

Read the Maritime New Zealand summary of the regulations for sewage discharge and treatment.

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