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Telecommunication cables and the Law

Telecommunication cables and the Law

International conventions
There are three international conventions :
  • The March 14th, 1884 International Convention.,
  • The United Nations Convention on the Sea Law,
  • The Montego-Bay Convention, which allows compensation for fishing equipment when the ship owner proves that he sacrificed an anchor, a net or a fishing device to avoid damaging a cable.

The French Law has not to date been amended to include the compensation proposed by the Third International Convention. However Orange enforces Article 115 of the Sea Law.

Article 115 of the Sea Law:

Compensation of incurred losses for having avoided damaging a submarine cable or a submarine pipeline.

Every country must adopt the laws and regulations necessary to enable a ship owner proving that he sacrificed an anchor, a net or a fishing device to avoid damaging a submarine cable or a submarine pipeline to be compensated by the cable or the pipeline owner, provided that the ship owner has taken all reasonable precautionary measures.

Regulations for the protection of submarine cables : anchorage and trawling prohibited zone
For the legal protection of submarine cables, but essentially to guarantee as far as possible the NON-INTERRUPTION of the traffic, the Maritime Authorities can release a mandate delimiting a protection zone prohibiting anchorage and trawling near a coastline.

Orange defines the points delimiting the zone where anchorage and trawling are prohibited.

In the majority of instances, the local maritime council negotiates to appoint the cable protection zones. This council is composed of representatives from the Maritime Office, the Local Fishing Council, from the local Offices of the Ministry of the Environment, from the city halls concerned, and from Orange.

Territorial Waters
While within the domain of International Law there exists a principle of freedom to lay submarine cables on the ocean bed, when a cable is laid near to a coastline, the local national laws apply.

In France, this zone is called the "Domaine Public Maritime" (= Territorial Waters). It extends to 12 NM from the coastline. A cable laying permit must be obtained from the national authorities for any cable landing on French territory.

Generally the authorization for the occupation of the territorial waters is bylaw (of local authorities), or an occupation convention.

Other national maritime zones.
  1. The ZEE ("zone économique exclusive" in French = The Exclusive Economic Zone )

    In France, this is a zone situated outside Territorial Waters (12 NM) extending to 200 NM from the coastline. Sovereign rights for the zone fall to the coastal state for exploration and exploitation of its natural resources.

    Laying cables is not subject to prior consent in this maritime zone according to the common-law of the high seas.

  2. The Continental Shelf

  3. The expression "Continental Shelf" is used to define the seabed and underlying strata of submarine zones bordering coastlines, but located outside Territorial Waters to a depth of 200 metres.

    The coastal nation may not impede submarine cable or pipeline laying or maintenance on the continental shelf, except in the event where reasonable measures for exploring this space and exploiting its natural resources must be taken.

Téléchargez le modèle au format PDF Le règlement des conflits d'usage dans la zone côtière entre pêche professionnelle et autres activités

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