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SURV458 Marine Law and the Environment

An introduction to the law of the sea relating to hydrography including on-shore and off-shore boundary definition, delimitation zones, and the extent of continental shelves. Includes ocean policy, product liability, maritime law, and associated environmental issues.

This paper is primarily designed to serve the training and education of hydrographic surveyors. The paper covers the legal regime of offshore territories and jurisdictions; maritime boundary formulation; liability for hydrographic products; expert witness testimony, and an introduction to marine environmental concerns.

Paper title Marine Law and the Environment
Paper code SURV458
Subject Surveying
EFTS 0.1334
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,173.39
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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216 points
SURV 429, SURV 558
Schedule C

While an important part of a hydrographic surveying programme, this paper stands alone and can be taken by any student with the prerequisites.

Teaching staff
Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Emily Tidey
Paper Structure
This paper - with the use of case law - covers the following:
  • Historical Development of the Law of the Sea
  • UNCLOS III and Maritime Boundaries
  • SOLAS 1974 Convention and the IMO, IHO
  • Hydrographic Surveying and Marine Research in Foreign Waters
  • Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Continental Shelf
  • Legal Liability
  • Conduct of Expert Witness
  • Effect of Surveying Operations on Marine Mammals
Teaching Arrangements

Lectures: Three 1-hour lectures per week.

Blackboard Use: Information and links will be provided on Blackboard as required.

Terms: A minimum of 50% is required in each internal assessment before a student is allowed to sit the final exam. A student who fails to meet these criteria will be allowed one resubmission during the paper - the maximum mark available for the resubmission will be 50%. A minimum of 50% is required in the final exam, regardless of the other internal assessments.

Internal Assessment: 60%, made of a report, presentation and a mid-semester test.

Exam: 40%, 2 hours.


Highly recommended: UN Convention on The Law of The Sea (available online).

Other texts are available in the Science and School of Surveying Libraries and online.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Information literacy.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  • Describe the nature of international law and the development of the international conventions that provide a basis for the law of the sea
  • Describe the nature, characteristics and delimitation of the various maritime zones and the implications on hydrographic surveying in each
  • Explain the requirements for continental shelf definition in accordance with the United Nations conventions and the methods of conducting hydrographic surveys to assist in achieving continental shelf claims to the UN
  • Describe the role of environmental assessments and their impact on hydrographic surveying activities, as well as information gained by hydrographic surveying for environmental assessments for other activities
  • Explain the concept of product liability, with particular emphasis on nautical charting, and the legal liability of the hydrographic surveyor
  • Explain the role of an expert witness, in particular in the role of a hydrographic surveyor in a maritime incident case

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system