UNCLOS introduces a number of unresolved issues for the underseas cable industry
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Currently, the main concerns relating to submarine cables are in the perspective of multiple ocean use introduced by UNCLOS. The conflicts between cables and other ocean uses, the overlapping of maritime zones, the legality of exclusion zones around cables, compensation for lost or damaged fishing gear due to cable interactions, legal liability for damaging cables, and unclear jurisdiction and interdepartmental coordination in the cable licensing and regulatory processes are only some of the potential conflicts to be resolved by States.
In particular, with regard to the laying of submarine cables, doubts can be also expressed about the interaction between the interest of coastal States to regulate their maritime spaces and the possibility to lay submarine cables by other States or individuals. Furthermore, in the maritime zones outside of the sovereignty of coastal States, the freedom to lay cable is often opposed to environmental issues as well as the interest to have safe navigation. Laying activities may interfere with the repair of submarine cables as well as navigation for fishing. In addition to this, coastal States often impose taxes on cables laid on the continental shelf or other excessive regulations.24
This lack of precision in the regulations for the laying of submarine cables leads also to enhance the weakness of the measures of protection available in the field.