The Minister of Conservation has granted resource consents for the Port of Tauranga to be deepened and widened.
Nick Smith said the consents were granted because of the importance efficient shipping services to New Zealand.
The consents allow the Port of Tauranga to dredge the entrance and shipping lanes to accommodate larger ships, carrying up to 8000 containers.
Conditions of the consent include restoration of pipi beds, creation of an artificial reef and careful placement of the dredged sand in approved locations.
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said it was frustrating it took almost four years for a final decision to be made on the consents.
He said the first stage of dredging will cost an estimated $40 million to $50 million.