Law of the Sea and Environmental Law acting together: Experience of laying submarine cable in the Arctic

Daria Shvets


All states have the right to lay submarine cables on the seabed according to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention 1982 (LOSC). Unlike submarine pipelines, cables are generally consideredbeing environmentally friendly, having minimum impact on the marine environment. Currently, there are several projects on submarine cables planned to be laidin the Arctic. In particular, the Quintillion Subsea Cable System is an ongoinglarge-scale project, which majorpart will go through the Arctic waters. Despite mostly local and moderate disturbance to the environment in other regions, it causes certainconcerns regarding the influence on the Arctic environment due to its unique and sensible ecosystem. The LOSC does notseparate the Arctic from other regions, andcables are laid there following the same conditions as well as in other parts of the World Ocean. This article aims to examine the international legal regime of submarine cables in the context of the ongoing cable projects in the Arctic as well as to consider the applicability of the precautionary principle and the provisions of the Polar Code for ensuring the protection of the Arctic environment.

Paraules clau

Submarine cables; UNCLOS; Arctic; Environmental protection; Polar code; Law of the sea.

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