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Submarine Telecommunication Cables and a Biodiversity Agreement in ABNJ: Finding New Routes for Cooperation
The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law  (IF0.656),  Pub Date : 2017-02-22, DOI: 10.1163/15718085-12341425
Andrew Friedman

In 2016, countries began meeting at the United Nations ( UN ) to prepare for negotiations to develop an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction ( ABNJ ). How the instrument will relate to submarine cables, if at all, remains to be decided. The preparatory committee will address a “package” of issues, among them the application of area-based management tools, including marine protected areas ( MPA s) and environmental impact assessments ( EIA s) to activities in ABNJ . EIA s and MPA s already affect submarine cable operations in national jurisdictions. In ABNJ , a new instrument should formalize a cooperative framework with the cable industry to provide limited environmental management where necessary without over-burdening cable operations. This approach would be consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and could also inform governance with respect to other activities likely to be benign in ABNJ .