Environmental groups are urging Parliament to dump regulations governing deep sea exploration which they say will put whales and other marine mammals at risk.
Greenpeace and Forest & Bird have complained to the regulations review committee that the rules contravene the Exclusive Economic Zone Act and international law.
Under the law, the Government has introduced regulations which list prospecting, seismic surveys and exploration as permitted activities.
The environmental groups object to them being permitted activities as of right and say they would harm marine mammals and other sea life.
Greenpeace's legal adviser Duncan Currie says the regulations should be withdrawn, and the exploration should be made discretionary activities, where there is a public hearing, risk is assessed, and conditions are put in place to allow proper regulation and monitoring.
But the Ministry for the Environment's deputy secretary, Guy Beatson, says the regulations do provide safeguards under the law and meet New Zealand's international obligations.
Mr Currie says he hopes the select committee will ignore the ministry's advice and make a strong recommendation to Parliament to drop the regulations.