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Chapter 7. The Relationship between Submarine Cables and the Marine Environment

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Chapter Summary

There has been a perception that submarine cables and cable operations have a negative impact on the marine environment. While there are inevitably interactions between the environment and cables, they are not necessarily detrimental. This chapter examines those cable/environment interactions, and analyzes whether the trend of increasing coastal State environmental regulations on cable operations are consistent with international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and, equally as important, whether these regulations are necessary to protect the marine environment. The interactions of submarine power and telecommunications cables with the marine environment can be viewed in the context of water depth and cable size. When imposing environmental regulations on cables and cable operations, coastal States should carefully consider whether the regulations are consistent with international law and whether they achieve the purpose of protecting the marine environment.

Keywords: coastal State environmental regulations; international law; marine environment; submarine cables; telecommunications cables; UNCLOS



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