ACMA declares protection zone over WA submarine cable

Third zone to be protected since July, 2007

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has declared a protection zone over a submarine telecommunications cable of national significance off Perth, Western Australia.

The protection zone will take effect on February 1, 2008.

The SEA-ME-WE3 cable is nationally significant as it is a high capacity cable linking Australia to global communications systems and is vital to the national interest.

Activities that could damage the SEA-ME-WE3 cable are restricted or prohibited within the protection zone, and significant criminal penalties apply for breaches of the legislation.

ACMA acting chair, Lyn Maddock, said the value of submarine cables to the Australian economy is enormous.

'It is little appreciated that submarine cables carry about 99 per cent of Australia's international voice and data traffic and in the past, breakage or damage has had serious consequences for Australian businesses conducting international transactions," Maddock said.

"The declaration of protection zones minimises the risk of such damage in the future.'

The Perth Protection Zone starts at the low water mark at City Beach and extends to 2,000 metres water depth (51 nautical miles from shore) and up to one nautical mile either side of the SEA-ME-WE3 cable. Marmion Marine Park is not part of the zone.

This is the third protection zone to be declared in Australia and follows 12 months of consultation. Two protection zones have been declared off Sydney in July 2007.

If carriers wish to install new cables in the Perth Protection Zone they must first obtain a permit from ACMA.

- with Sandra Rossi

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