Sea installations

What is a sea installation?

A sea installation is defined as any man-made structure that can be used for an environmental activity, either when in physical contact with the seabed or whilst floating.

Environmental activities include:

  • tourism or recreation
  • carrying out a business
  • exploring, exploiting or using the living resources of the sea, seabed or sub-soil of the seabed (including fishing, pearling, oyster/fish farming)
  • marine archaeology
  • other activities including scientific research or transport

Examples of sea installations are:

  • floating hotels
  • tourism pontoons
  • artificial islands
  • submarine power cables

Some structures or vessels are not classified as sea installations. These are listed below: what is not a sea installation. Please refer to the Sea Installations Act 1987  or contact the department for further clarification.

Sea Installations Act 1987

Under the Sea Installations Act the Australian Government:

  • ensures that sea installations are operated safely
  • ensures that sea installations are operated in a way that protects the environment
  • applies laws relating to sea installations

The Sea Installations Act applies from the 3 nautical mile State limit to the outermost limits of Australian waters. For external Territories, it applies from the coast outwards.

Sea installations permits

Permits are required to install and operate sea installations. Permit applications are assessed based on the environmental and safety implications of the proposed sea installation.

Please contact the Department if you wish to apply for a sea installation permit. We will provide guidance about how to apply. Permit applications must be received in writing. Applicants must be either the owner or the operator of the proposed installation.

Information usually required in application includes:

  • ownership and operation documentation
  • construction and transport plans
  • any technical reports
  • information on the extent of use and occupation by people
  • insurance arrangements

Sea installation proposals may also require assessment under the EPBC Act. Exemption certificates may be granted in some circumstances.


Fees may be charged for new sea installation permit applications. The maximum fee is $60,000. A $1000 permit renewal fee may also be charged. Additionally, an annual levy may be required under Sea Installations Levy Act 1987 .

What is not a sea installation?

  • cargo ships
  • vessels used for sea dumping (if authorised under the Sea Dumping Act)
  • licensed fishing vessels and fish aggregating devices used solely for commercial purposes
  • mariculture platforms used solely for rearing and harvesting fish, crustaceans or mollusc
  • fishing equipment used from a licensed fishing vessel
  • licensed pearling vessels
  • historic shipwrecks
  • other shipwrecks defined under Section 294 of the Navigation Act 1912
  • navigational aids placed under Commonwealth or State legislation
  • resource industry fixed structures including pipelines (these are immovable structures predominantly used offshore to explore for or exploit nature mineral resources)
  • resource industry mobile units (these are vessels or other floating/moveable structures used wholly for exploring or exploiting natural mineral resources from the seabed)
  • structures relating to the defence of Australia or belonging to the defence forces of another country
  • submarine telecommunications cables
  • pipelines licensed under the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967
  • any other prescribed structures or parts thereof