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Vital Cook Strait Cables must be protected

Vital Cook Strait Cables must be protected

Transpower today said that two recent prosecutions over fishing activities in the Cook Strait Cable Protection Zone (CPZ) reinforce the importance of the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Cook Strait Cable.

The CPZ protects vital submarine electricity and telecommunication cable links between the North and South Islands. The cables form part of the HVDC inter-island link which transfers power between the North and the South Island.

Activities such as fishing and anchoring are prohibited in the CPZ to protect the cables under the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996. The penalty for breaching the Act can result in fines of up to $250,000, as well as forfeiture of the vessel.

HVDC & Power Electronics Manager Ricky Smith said that protecting the submarine cables of the HVDC inter-island link is critical to ensuring a secure supply of electricity in both the North and South Islands.

"The HVDC link moves power between islands. It can provide up to 40% of the electricity load for the North Island, or it can provide electricity to the South Island if needed, for example in dry years when the hydro lakes are low and North Island generation is needed to cover South Island electricity demand.”

“The CPZ is in place to ensure that this critical piece of national infrastructure is kept safe. We encourage people to take time and familiarise themselves with the CPZ protection zone prohibition, before fishing in the Cook Strait, and also ensure that their navigational tools onboard are sufficient,” he said.

The reminder comes following two recent cases where convictions were secured: the first where the master of an inshore trawler negligently conducted a fishing activity inside the CPZ, and the second involving a recreational runabout moored in the CPZ under the belief that this activity would not cause damage. Both prosecutions resulted in significant penalties.

“Luckily no damage occurred in either incident, however if the cables had been impacted we estimate the cost to New Zealand could have been as much as $60m and caused significant disruption to power and communications systems,” Smith said. “Education is key and we are happy to provide any information for those fishing or boating in the Cook Strait if they are unsure of the CPZ boundaries.”

More information for mariners, fishers, divers and the public can be found at https://www.transpower.co.nz/resources/cook-strait-cable-booklet.


ENDS

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