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Protection critical for power cables in Cook Strait

Protection critical for power cables in Cook Strait

Transpower today said that a recent prosecution over fishing activity in the Cook Strait Cable Protection Zone (CPZ) highlights the importance of protecting the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Cook Strait Cables.

The CPZ protects critical submarine electricity and telecommunications cables that link the North and South Islands. Fishing and anchoring are prohibited in the CPZ to ensure the cables are not accidentally disturbed or damaged. These activities – which include fishing using nets, pots, lines and diving – present risks to the inter-island flow of power and data that forms part of New Zealand’s infrastructure backbone.

Penalties for breaching the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996 include fines of up to $250,000 and forfeiture of the vessel responsible.

“The CPZ is in place to ensure that this important piece of national infrastructure is kept safe,” said Ricky Smith, HVDC & Power Electronics Manager at Transpower. “We encourage people to familiarise themselves with the location and restrictions of the CPZ before fishing in the Cook Strait, and to also ensure that their navigational tools onboard are sufficient,” he said.

This reminder comes following a recent case in the Nelson District Court where the judge considered the master of a fishing vessel had been seriously careless in allowing fishing equipment to be dragged into the CPZ by tides. While no damage was detected to the cables, this was considered serious offending and a fine was imposed.

Smith said that there have been previous incidents where trawling equipment, other fishing gear and anchors have caught on the undersea cables and caused damage. “Repairing these cables can cost millions of dollars and cause significant disruption to power and communications systems for New Zealand. We are lucky no damage occurred in this incident, and we caution those using the Cook Strait for recreation or for commercial fishing to be aware of the CPZ boundaries.”

Transpower is keen to help educate those fishing or boating in the Cook Strait to ensure the cables are protected, and provides information in a number of ways. Contact information, and a summary of information for mariners, fishers, divers and the public can be found at
https://www.transpower.co.nz/cook-strait-cpz-cable-protection-zone.

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