Deep-Sea Resources

Deep-Sea Resources
I possess an extensive working knowledge of deep-sea resource development.

I have advised international organisations, state agencies and developers on a range of issues concerning the development of deep sea minerals and oil and gas.

I was awarded a doctoral scholarship through the Maritime Institute, Department of Public International Law, University of Ghent in 2005, and I am member of the Institute’s doctoral research programme.

Some of my recent work includes:

  • Counsel for Fisheries Inshore New Zealand Limited & Ors in opposition to Trans-Tasman Resources Limited’s application in 2016 to undertake iron sand mining within the South Taranaki Bight under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2011 (EEZ Act).
  • Counsel for Talley’s Group Limited in successful application to set aside a direction by the Environmental Protection Authority withholding publication or communication of information concerning Trans-Tasman Resources Limited’s iron sand mining application to persons who enter a confidentiality agreement. Kiwis Against Seabed Mining Inc v Environmental Protection Authority [2016] NZENVC 217 (EC).
  • Facilitator of Working Group on ecosystem-based management for International Seabed Authority’s workshop on Environmental Assessment and Management for Exploitation of Deep Seabed Minerals in the Area (Australia, 23 to 26 May 2016).
  • Counsel for Fisheries Inshore New Zealand Limited & Ors in successful opposition to an application by Trans-Tasman Resources Limited in 2013 to undertake iron ore and processing operations within the South Taranaki Bight under the EEZ Act.
  • Delivering national seminars for the New Zealand Law Society on exploration and development within the Exclusive Economic Zone – offshore oil and gas.
  • Advised the Secretariat of the Pacific Community on draft deep-sea mining legislation for South Pacific States.
  • Advised the Environmental Protection Authority on the regulation of exploration and development within New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • Represented the New Zealand Law Society before the Parliamentary Select Committee during the passage of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Bill 2011.
  • Advised the Secretariat of the Pacific Community on the European Union funded P-ACP Regional Legislative and Regulatory Framework for Deep Seabed Mining and Exploration.
  • Chair of the Legal Working Group for the International Seabed Authority’s workshop on Environmental Management Needs for Exploration and Exploitation of Deep Sea Minerals (Fiji, 29 November to 2 December 2011).
  • Counsel for the IUCN, before Seabed Disputes Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, in Advisory Opinion proceedings on Responsibilities and Obligations of States Sponsoring Persons and Entities with Respect to Activities in the Area (Advisory Opinion 17, 1 February 2011).


“Robert acted for a collective of fishing interests in response to two seabed mining applications under the relatively recent EEZ and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012. Given the legislation was new, we were navigating uncharted legal territory. This made the proceedings challenging from a legal, procedural and evidential perspective and Robert provided excellent advice on all fronts. I found Robert’s advice insightful, and valued his ability to not only traverse the legal matters but also offer a perspective of evidential issues. He was across many of the technical aspects of the application which is testament to his commitment to his clients. Robert also worked seamlessly with instructing Counsel, contracted technical experts and other legal professionals involved in the matter.”

Dr Jeremy Helson, CEO – Fisheries Inshore New Zealand Ltd

“Robert Makgill joined American lawyers, Cymie Payne and Donald Anton, as legal counsel for the IUCN before the International Law for the Sea Tribunal in Hamburg, Germany, in late 2010. Robert, and his co-counsels’, written statement and oral submissions received high praise from international lawyers within the IUCN and other delegates who appeared in Hamburg. I am of the view that their contribution to the Tribunal’s ensuing historic Advisory Opinion on deep sea mining was significant.”

Harlan Cohen, PhD, Advisor on Ocean Governance and International Institutions IUCN Washington