Beyond localized damage or loss of habitat, submarine power and communication cables may temporarily or permanently affect the marine environment through heat, turbidity (while the cables are buried), risk of entanglement, and insertion of artificial substrates. However, the areas that cable runs through are often designated as protected, meaning that moorings, bottom trawls and even fishing can be restricted. Cook Strait Cable Protection Zone (CPZ) in New Zealand, for example, Fishing is restricted near cableswhich leads to the creation of an effective reserve and thus the improvement of fish stocks.
And submarine cables don’t pollute: they are stable, inert structures that can even be recovered and recycled after they’ve served their time (about 20-40 years, on average). “The carbon footprint is actually relatively low compared to most Internet infrastructure,” says Nicole Starocelski, associate professor at New York University. her, sea networkAnd It examines the cultural and environmental dimensions of transoceanic cable systems, and adds an important social science perspective to the discussion. “We’ve already advocated for more cable, connecting large onshore data centers to renewable grids, in order to reduce fossil fuel consumption.”
Indeed, SIDS are critically connected to complex cable systems, without which they would struggle to access green energy, telecommunications, telework technology, e-medicine and other digital services. Ocean life – and its often complex interaction with human activities – is full of unknowns. For environmentalists concerned about conservation, these submarine cables remain a serpentine question mark.
But, as Claire explains: “There is value in the research, which will help industry leaders, policy makers, cable companies, and other parts of the broader blue economy ensure that any seabed development is as sustainable as possible.”
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