Sea installations

What is a sea installation?

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

  • tourism or recreation
  • carrying on of a business
  • exploring, exploiting or using the living resources of the sea, seabed or sub-soil of the seabed whether by way of fishing, pearling, oysterfarming,fish farming or otherwise
  • marine archaeology
  • other activities including a scientific activity or transport activity.

Examples of sea installations are:

  • tourism pontoons
  • artificial islands
  • fish aggregating devices

Sea Installations Act 1987

Under the Sea Installations Act, and other legislation, 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

The Sea Installations Act was amended in 2014 to repeal the environment permitting and exemption requirements of the Act. A number of other provisions, such as those that relate to maritime safety, customs, immigration and quarantine matters, were not affected by the amendments and will continue to be in force.

In the interim, any existing permits or exemption will remain in force until the relevant certificate expires. After this, no further compliance with the permitting or exemption provisions will be required.

As was the case before the amendment of the Sea Installations Act, if you are proposing to take an action (whether involving a sea installation or not) that could have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance, or other protected matter such as the Commonwealth marine environment, you will need to refer your proposed action to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act).

There is further information on the requirements of the EPBC Act and the process for applying at this website: