Subsea Fibre-Optic Cable Adverse Impact on the Marine Environment.

Subsea Fibre-Optic Cable
Adverse Impact on the
Marine Environment.

This letter provides some information related to the environmental impact that entails with the installation of fiber-optic cable in the Subsea without first confirming a suitable corridor with no ecologically importance. In this letter I will highlight some of the common adverse impacts that could result from a subsea cable activity, if the environmental aspects are ignored. Environmental impacts associated with subsea cable can vary from one project to other and involving from a simple marine disturbance of marine sediment, marine habitats, air emissions from vessels and power generating equipment, waste and wastewater management, potential incidents and accidents events during different phases of the works (during cable installation, operation and decommissioning phases) to major marine disaster. I believed the objective is to provide second fiberoptic cable from Djabuti to Berbera (Somaliland) to support the existing cable to meet the increasing market demand on communication sector, but this put extra pressure on an environment that is already suffering with a climate change pressures.
The potential risk associated with a cable installation rating from a high significant to a negligible/non-significant and these are based on many factors, including but not limited to the condition of the environmental at the cable route, technology to be used and methodology to be applied. Hence, the need to characterize and pre-establish the cable’s corridor, prior mobilization of the cable installation, engineering procurement, installation and commissioning of contractor.
In general, crane badge is usually used for offshore installations supported with some diving works. Also, in case of long distance between the connecting points, numerous anchoring may be needed during the cable laying and installation activities. However, the sensitivity of the marine environment at the project area such as Sa’ada-ed Din and other island close to the city of Saila are reported to contain a wide range of reefs and coral including wide monospecific stands of Acropora and sea-grass communities near-shore areas, preventive control are required to protect these important habitats and as result large biodiversity.
Thus, If such a project is to be , I would recommend a full environmental appraisal to be carried out prior installation, to minimize the total footprint on the sea-floor, use international best practice such as underwater Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV) to locate areas with ecologically sensitive habitats such as a coral reefs and sea-grass and technically selection safe corridor for the cable..
Waste during construction
Hazardous and non-hazardous and inert waste are expected to be generated during the cable laying activities. It is vitally important that all types of waste are collected and transported to onshore for disposal and /or treatment in accordance MARPOL 73/78.
Marine Environment
It is vitally important not to reduce sediment and water quality and avoid damaging any marine habitats during the cable laying activities. This can only be released if full environmental appraisal is conducted follow by implementation of adequate environmental management to mitigate and control potential risks associated with the activity including laying, operational and decommissioning phases.
Mohammed Haji Ibrahim
Sheffield, UK


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