According to Canadian media, deep-sea cable contractors are set to start laying transatlantic cables for Meta (the social media giant formerly known by Facebook) through Nova Scotian fishing areas as early as next week. Local fishing and conservation groups said on Monday the project was pushed through without enough – or any – input from the community.
The Atlantic Groundfish Council, a regional fishing trade group, told CBC News on Monday “Consultation was virtually non-existent.,” pointing out that they had suggested an alternate route that didn’t disturb important fishing grounds but received no response. Kris Vascotto, the spokesperson for the group said talks with consultants lasted only one month.
The organization had “It was expected that further discussion would ensue” with either the government Department of Fisheries and Oceans or at least with the company then known as Facebook itself, but they heard nothing until they were told last week that “A vessel would be entering the area. The gear must be moved to allow for the installation of cable.”
It is anticipated that the process could take up to a month. Fishing vessels are to be kept at least one nautical miles from fishermen through March. They also need to get rid of any equipment within half an nautical mile of cable-laying vessels.
It’s not clear who besides Meta will have access to the 3.8cm-wide (1.5-inches) fiber optic cable, or what they will have to pay the multi-billion-dollar company for the privilege of using it – official papers merely state that “the Amitié fiber optic cable will carry internet, telephone and data between the United States and Europe.” Described by engineering professor Jean-Francois Dalhousie as providing “Data movement has seen a major improvement,” the cable will be partially owned by Microsoft and Vodafone in addition to Meta’s 80% share. The cable will only be partially buried. However, the cables will still be visible in some areas. This puts fishing groups at risk of being held responsible for damage to the lines in those places. It is possible that the entire area could be closed to fishing.
While local fishing groups had scant input on the project, the Canadian government reportedly approved it in December, complete with a “Letter of Advice” from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans regarding how to avoid or minimize harming fish habitats. The agency refused to give the letter to CBC News and explain the guidelines it expected Alcatel Submarine Networks to follow (if any),
Does Zuckerberg’s Meta have a problem?
Alcatel itself was slightly more fomassnews.coming, with spokesperson Rachel Van Oppen declaring that both the cable route and means of installation were “Adjusted to reduce both the environmental and fishing impact.” The cable will be buried in the Funding Channel-Browns Bank Area of Interest using “Low-impact technology” to avoid “Interaction with fishing gear,” Van Oppen told CBC.
However, the fishing trade group’s spokesman argued the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had claimed otherwise, suggesting the cable would be laid on top of the seabed in order to protect the coral beneath. The agency declined to reveal either way what directions it had given Alcatel, merely stating that after discussions with the agency, the company had “Revised” their initial route to “Deep water corals, sponges, and other marine life should be protected.” The department also suggested it was Alcatel’s responsibility, not their own, to negotiate with the fishing industry.
This story can be shared on social media