International Cable Protection Committee

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ICPC Achievements

Updated Friday 10 May 2019
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The ICPC has more than 175 Members in over 60 countries and has the vision of being the premier international submarine cable authority providing leadership and guidance on issues related to submarine cable security and reliability. Recent achievements that advance the ICPC towards this vision include:

Publications and Library

Compilation of a very large, dedicated source of international cable legislation and index of reported cases and rulings involving submarine cables, the only such collection worldwide.

Compilation of a very large source of environmental information related to the installation maintenance and protection of submarine cables.

A peer-reviewed book, jointly compiled by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the ICPC titled Submarine Cables and the Oceans: Connecting the World. The book has contributions from ICPC members, cable industry associates, the ICPC's Marine Environmental Advisor (MEA) and International Cable Law Advisor (ICLA). The MEA also co-edited the publication, which has been downloaded over 72,000 times.

An authoritative reference book titled Submarine Cables – The Handbook of Law and Policy was published in 2014. The book includes contributions from the ICPC's International Cable Law Advisor, the Marine Environmental Advisor and a number of ICPC Members. The ICLA also co-edited this publication.

The ICPC has been the catalyst for independent research into the interactions of cables and the marine environment that has led to the following papers in the peer-reviewed science literature:
  • Wood, M.P. and Carter, L., 2008. Whale Entanglements with Submarine Telecommunication Cables IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 33, 445-460
  • Carter, L., J. D. Milliman, P. J. Talling, R. Gavey, and R. B. Wynn, 2012. Near-synchronous and delayed initiation of long run-out submarine sediment flows from a record-breaking river flood, offshore Taiwan. Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L12603, doi: 10.1029/2012GL051172, 2012.
ICPC Recommendations on submarine cable industry best practice have been requested an average of 120 times per year over the past 5 years.

The English language version of the ICPC booklet, Fishing and Submarine Cables Working Together was downloaded from the website over 14,000 times in the current year and the Spanish language version was downloaded over 15,000 times.

The ICPC’s educational presentation About Submarine Telecommunications Cables was downloaded over 112,000 times in the current year.

The ICPC’s educational presentation About Submarine Power Cables was downloaded over 100,000 times in the current year.

A 6-part ICPC movie, based on the UNEP/ICPC book, has been produced and is available via the ICPC website.

The ICPC published a Loss Prevention Bulletin to all of the world’s P&I clubs, raising awareness of the risks to cables from accidental anchor deployment.

Published monthly, the Environment Update newsletter (over 190 issues) has been distributed to all ICPC Members.

Quarterly Newsletters are published to Members, providing an update on ICPC activities.

Submission of articles to a number of publications including:
  • Article titled Subsea Telecommunications by Lionel Carter (MEA) and Douglas Burnett (former ICLA) submitted for publication in the "Handbook of the Ocean Resources & Management" in November 2014.
  • Oceanography v.27 (2) 46-55 -"Insights into submarine geohazards from breaks in subsea telecommunication cables" by Lionel Carter (MEA), Rachel Gavey, Peter Talling and James Liu.
  • Public Service Review magazine: European Union: Issue 22 – "Opting for Optics" by Dean Veverka, former Chairman ICPC
  • Shipping and Marine Magazine (UK) – "Under the Sea" by Dean Veverka, former Chairman ICPC
  • Proceedings [US Naval Institute] – "Cable Vision" by Captain Douglas R. Burnett U.S. Navy retired, ICPC International Cable Law Advisor
  • Deep Sea Observatories and International Law by Douglas R. Burnett (former ICPC International Cable Law Advisor) and Prof. Lionel Carter (ICPC Marine
  • Environmental Advisor) IEEE publication.
  • Lineman for the Oceans by Prof. Lionel Carter (ICPC Marine Environmental Advisor) in Victorious alumnus magazine (distribution 58,000).

Links with Other Organisations

ICPC is viewed as a key submarine cable industry organisation for inclusion in any forum discussing the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

ICPC is viewed by many government organisations as a focus for communication with the submarine cable industry.

ICPC has a MOU with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).

ICPC has an ongoing MOU with the Rhodes Academy to sponsor an annual writing competition on the subject of international law and submarine cables. Winning entries in successive years since 2009 have been published in leading law journals.

ICPC has an ongoing MOU with European Subsea Cables Association (formerly Subsea Cables UK) and has cooperative relationships with the North American Submarine Cable Association (NASCA), the Denmark Cable Protection Committee (DKCPC) and Oceania Submarine Cable Association (OSCA) and cooperates with SubOptic to provide reciprocal publicity for events.

ICPC has an ongoing MOU with SubOptic and has co-sponsored, the development of "Surfacing," a digital interactive map of submarine cables built using web technologies.

Strong operational links have been established with the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Southampton, UK via;
  • Support for writing-up of research into potential pollution impacts of submarine cables used for the construction of artificial reefs
  • Non-financial support for Dr Peter Talling that contributed to his award of a Royal Society Industry Fellowship to evaluate the dynamics of submarine mudflows of the type that disrupted cables off southern Taiwan
  • Financial support for Rachel Gavey to complete her PhD thesis under joint supervision of NOC and Prof. Lionel Carter (MEA) on natural hazards around Taiwan and their impact on cables. The thesis was completed and successfully defended in January 2012 and now Dr Gavey is planning the science to author a paper on the cable/hazard problem.
ICPC has established working relationships with:
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • International Seabed Authority (ISA)
  • Center for International LAW (CIL) (Singapore), Center for Oceans Law and Policy (COLP) (USA), and China Institute of Marine Affairs (CIMA) (PRC) International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE)
  • International Telecommunications Union, Telecommunications Standardization Bureau

Presentations to Conferences

"Submarine Cables and BBNJ" an ICPC side event at the United Nations, NYC; 2016. Preparatory Committee established by General Assembly resolution 69/292: Development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

"Submarine cable protection and security in the modern world" at The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London, UK; 2016. Annihilating Space & Time: 150 years of Transatlantic Telecommunication 5th September 2016.

An ICPC side event at the International Seadbed Authority's (ISA) 22nd Session, Kingston, Jamaica; 2016.

"The Case for Cables – Protecting and Enhancing the Global Telecoms Environment" at SubOptic 2016; Dubai, UAE.

First Ever International Workshop on HVDC Power Cables in the Context of International Submarine Cables and Pipelines and the ABNJ held in Ankara, Turkey, 2016. The study was a part of the DEHUKAM International Workshop 2016 “Legal Status of Submarine Cables, Pipelines and ABNJ”, the inaugural workshop by the Research Center of the Sea and Maritime Law of Ankara University (DEHUKAM). The workshop was held jointly by the Center for Oceans Law and Policy (COLP) of the University of Virginia, the Center for International Law (CIL), National University of Singapore, the University of Bergen in Norway, and the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC).

Ghana Cable Awareness Workshop, Accra, Ghana; 2015. A pioneering Submarine Cable Awareness Workshop was held to bring together cross-sectoral national and international organisations with an interest in the seabed in Ghana’s national waters and Exclusive Economic Zone, with particular reference to pipelines and submarine cables.

Inaugural workshop with ICPC and the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; 2015. A joint workshop held by the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) regarding submarine telecommunication cables in Indonesia.

Experts Group Meeting (EGM) on Security of Vital Undersea Communications Infrastructure that was held in February 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia by the Counsel for Security Cooperation Asia Pacific (CSCAP). ICPC representatives gave presentations on ‘Submarine Telecommunications Cables as Critical Infrastructure’ and ‘Issues Concerning the Repair of Submarine Cables’.

Asia Pacific Cooperation (APEC) workshop in Bali, October 2013. ICPC representatives presented compelling statistical evidence of the repair permitting delays faced by the various zone agreements. Presentations given were titled Submarine Cables – Resilient but Vulnerable, How does the Industry Protect Their Cables?, Regulatory Barriers to Submarine Cable Resilience, Environmental Considerations and Potential Impacts on Submarine Cables and The ICPC.

Third ITU-UNESCO-WMO Workshop on Submarine Cables for Ocean/Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning: Science, Engineering, Business and Law, Madrid, September 2013.

SubOptic 2013 in Paris. ICPC presented a Master Class titled ‘Critical Infrastructure Awareness’. The ICPC also shared an exhibition booth with Subsea Cables UK.

Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) 2013 in January 2013, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Main One Cable Awareness Seminars in 2013. The ICPC proactively participated in the seminars in Lagos and Accra, which advanced the process of protecting Nigeria’s submarine cable infrastructure.

UNCLOS at 30’ conference at the Ocean University of China in November 2012. The ICPC’s International Cable Law Advisor presented a paper titled ‘Thirty Years of UNCLOS and Submarine Cables’.

Third Worldwide Cyber Security Summit in New Delhi in October 2012. The ICPC Chairman was invited to Co-Chair two breakout sessions and provide a report on the outcomes to the summit delegates.

Second ITU Green Standards Week in Paris in September 2012. The ICPC was represented by three ICPC Executive Committee Members and is recognised by the ITU as representing the submarine cable industry.

APEC-TEL Cable Protection Workshop in Singapore and San Francisco (2011), at the invitation of the Australian Government.

Oceans Conference on Legal Challenges in Maritime Security, Heidelberg.

Strategic Planning workshop on Global Oceans Issues in Marine Areas beyond National Jurisdiction, Nice.

Rhodes Academy. The ICPC International Cable Law Advisor created the lesson on the subject of submarine cables and UNCLOS in 2006. This has been offered every year since as part of the standard course at the Rhodes Academy.

China Regional Workshop on Submarine Cables, Beijing. Co-sponsor with the Chinese Institute for Maritime Affairs (CIMA) and the Center for Oceans Law and Policy (COLP).

Reliability of Global Undersea Communications Cable Infrastructure (ROGUCCI) / EastWest Institute (EWI) Summits, New Delhi (where the ICPC Chairman chaired two sessions) Dubai, Dallas, London (2011), and New York. ICPC has implemented some of their recommendations.

Centre for International Law, Singapore (CIL). Co-sponsored workshop on submarine cables, with CIL, National University of Singapore, Center for Oceans Law and Policy, CIMA-Special Ocean Administration, and the Netherland Institute of International Law.

ITU-UNESCO-WMO Workshop on Submarine Cables for Ocean/Climate Monitoring and Disaster Warning: Science, Engineering, Business and Law, Rome, 2011

Submarine Networks World, Singapore, 2011 and 2013.

European Forum for Member States (EFMS), 2011

In April 2011, the ICPC and Center for International Law (CIL) jointly sponsored a submarine cable workshop that brought together representatives from 23 national governments, the ISA, the UN and ICPC Members. The workshop program was designed to educate governments on cable issues and improve protection of the submarine cable infrastructure.

Influence on Legislation

The ICPC requested the U.S. Navigation Safety Advisory Council ("NAVSAC") to consider two amendments to the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 ("COLREGS") to reduce collisions at sea between cable ships and cable repair buoys and other vessels. The amendment approval process is ongoing.

ICPC representation influenced the development of The Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management (ESSIM) so that the rights of cables under UNCLOS were successfully recognized and coastal State encroachment risk reduced.

As a direct result of efforts by ICPC and its Members with their national governments, the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage respects the rights of submarine cables as set out in UNCLOS and excluded international submarine cables from the Convention’s requirements on underwater cultural heritage.

The ICPC has provided comments on national legislation impacting submarine cables in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malta and Indonesia.
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