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Zone to protect Perth submarine cables

Submarine cables connect Australia to other countries. We must protect the cables from damage so we can keep talking with the rest of the world.

Anyone using the sea or seabed must take care around the submarine cable near Perth.

Perth Protection Zone

The Perth Protection Zone:

  • extends 60 nautical miles (112km) off City Beach
  • extends to a water depth of 2000 metres
  • extends 1 nautical mile each side of the cable

See the Perth Protection Zone map.

The declaration

Read the legal declarations to check if an activity is approved.

Download the zone coordinates as a shapefile.

Activities we ban in the Perth Protection Zone

Some activities are prohibited in the Perth Protection Zone. It is illegal to:

  • use, tow, operate or suspend from a ship any trawl gear designed to work on or near the seabed, or a mid-water trawl
  • use, tow, operate or suspend from a ship a dredge, including for scallop dredging
  • use, tow, operate or suspend from a ship a demersal longline, including setlines and trotlines
  • establish, maintain or use a spoil ground or other ocean disposal point (including dumping materials at sea)
  • scuttle or attempt to scuttle a ship
  • use, tow, operate or suspend from a ship a structure moored to the seabed with the primary function of attracting fish for capture, such as a fish aggregating device
  • use, tow, operate or suspend from a ship a Scottish or Danish seine
  • use, tow, operate or suspend from a ship any type of net, rope, chain or other object used in fishing operations that can touch the seabed

It is a criminal offence to:

  • damage or sever a submarine cable
  • engage in negligent conduct that results in damage to a cable
  • engage in an activity that is prohibited or restricted in a protection zone

You face a 10-year prison term and/or a fine up to $126,000.

Defence training area in the Perth Protection Zone

There is a defence training area that overlaps with the Perth Protection Zone. Contact the Australian Hydrographic Service for more information about this training area. 

The ACMA and the Department of Defence have a memorandum of understanding (MoU). This outlines how the Department of Defence can operate in this area including:

  • the use of explosives
  • the direction for firing ammunition
  • the use of inert practice rounds
  • the use of targets

Submarine cable operators must contact the Department of Defence before they go into a defence training area.

Activities we restrict in the Perth Protection Zone

The following activities are restricted in the Perth Protection Zone:

 

Activity

0 to 500 metres from low-water mark

500 metres from low-water mark to 100 metres water depth

Waters of greater than 100 metres depth

Anchoring

Permitted

Is permitted, providing all of the following apply:

  • the anchor is fitted with a trip release mechanism; and
  • the anchor line has a maximum breaking strain of 1,090kg or less; and
  • the ship uses a danforth anchor, or sand and reef (SARC) anchor that weighs less than 15kg; or
  • the ship uses a plough anchor, or reef pick anchor, that weighs less than 25kg

Not permitted

Lowering, raising or suspending from a ship a shotline

Permitted

Is permitted, providing:

  • the shot weighs 20 kg or less; and
  • the shotline has a maximum breaking strain of 2.7 tonne* or less

Not permitted

Demersal fishing using J-hooks

Permitted

Is permitted, providing: the fishing line has a breaking strain of 50kg or less

Is permitted, providing: the fishing line has a breaking strain of 50kg or less

Use of, or towing, operating or suspending from a ship a demersal dropline

Permitted

Is permitted, providing all of the following apply:

  • only circle-type hooks are used; and
  • the dropline has a breaking strain of 2.7 tonne* or less; and
  • the dropline does not use a wire snood, trace, dropper, branch line or mainline;
  • the breaking strain of each branch line is 500kg or less; and
  • the weight used to sink the dropline is 15kg or less

Is permitted, providing all of the following apply:

  • only circle-type hooks are used; and
  • the dropline has a breaking strain of 2.7 tonne* or less; and
  • the dropline does not use a wire snood, trace, dropper, branch line or mainline;
  • the breaking strain of each branch line is 500kg or less; and
  • the weight used to sink the dropline is 15kg or less

Use of, or towing, operating or suspending from a ship a single pot or trap (for example, for fish or lobster trapping)

Permitted

Is permitted, providing all of the following apply:

  • the base of the trap is 2 metres or less in length, width or diameter; and
  • the trap rope is not composed of wire and has a breaking strain of 2.7 tonne* or less

Is permitted, providing all of the following apply:

  • the base of the trap is 2 metres or less in length, width or diameter; and
  • the trap rope is not composed of wire and has a breaking strain of 2.7 tonne* or less

Use of or towing, operating or suspending from a ship multiple pots or traps (for example, as often used in octopus and crab fisheries)

Permitted

Is permitted, providing all of the following apply:

  • multiple pots, or traps, are fixed to a single mainline; and
  • each individual pot, or trap, is 15kg or less in weight when dry; and
  • the base of the trap is 2 metres or less in length, width or diameter; and
  • the branch line has a maximum breaking strain less than 500kg; and
  • the mainline is not composed of wire and has a breaking strain of 2.7 tonne* or less

Is permitted, providing all of the following apply:

  • multiple pots, or traps, are fixed to a single mainline; and
  • each individual pot, or trap, is 15kg or less in weight when dry; and
  • the base of the trap is 2 metres or less in length, width or diameter; and
  • the branch line has a maximum breaking strain less than 500kg; and
  • the mainline is not composed of wire and has a breaking strain of 2.7 tonne* or less

Harvesting the benthos

Permitted

Not permitted, unless harvesting is conducted by hand.

Not permitted, unless harvesting is conducted by hand.

Use of a demersal gillnet

Permitted

Permitted providing all of the following apply:

  • anchors or external weights are not used with the gillnet; and
  • each line used in the fishing operation has a breaking strain that does not exceed 2.7 tonne* or less; and
  • fishing gear is retrieved vertically from the seabed, to the greatest extent practicable, so that the fishing gear does not drag on the seabed

Not permitted

Use of, or towing, operating or suspending from a ship, a grapnel

Permitted

Not permitted apart from this exemption:

  • in waters more than 500 metres from the low water mark, and
  • if it is used in the course of work on electricity, oil or gas pipelines and cables, installations for the use of ships, civil engineering, mining or petroleum operations
  • or in conducting research that involves contact with the seabed.

 

Not permitted apart from this exemption:

  • in waters more than 500 metres from the low water mark, and
  • if it is used in the course of work on electricity, oil or gas pipelines and cables, installations for the use of ships, civil engineering, mining or petroleum operations
  • or in conducting research that involves contact with the seabed.

 

Use of, an explosive or explosive device

Permitted if:

  • used in the course of mineral or petroleum operations, civil engineering work
  • or an exercise conducted by or with the Australian Defence Force.

Permitted if:

  • used in the course of mineral or petroleum operations, civil engineering work
  • or an exercise conducted by or with the Australian Defence Force.

 

Permitted if:

  • used in the course of mineral or petroleum operations, civil engineering work
  • or an exercise conducted by or with the Australian Defence Force.

 

 

Activities we allow with permission

Some activities are allowed in the Perth Protection Zone.

The activities include:

  • install, maintain or remove an electricity cable, an oil or gas pipeline, any like cables or pipelines and using any associated equipment
  • construct, maintain or remove an installation for the use of ships
  • conduct civil engineering work, including constructing and removing navigation aids
  • explore or exploit resources (other than marine species)
  • do research that doesn't impact on cables located in the Perth Protection Zone

To get permission to do this work, you must:

  • contact the cable owners at least 21 days before your planned activity
  • follow the consultation process set out in the declaration.

Recreation activities we allow

You can still do these activities in the Perth Protection Zone:

  • recreational activities within 500 metres of the shore
  • some commercial fishing methods such as purse seining, beach seining, squid jigging, pelagic longlining, pelagic haul netting
  • beach safety meshing nets around beaches in the zones up to 500 metres from the low-water mark
  • use of any size circular hook and J-hooks providing that recreation fishers targeting large bottom-dwelling fish offshore have lines with a breaking strain of 50kg or less
  • recreational fishers that target mid or upper water fish are not affected by the Perth Protection Zone

Who to contact

You can contact us to discuss your questions.

Email: subcablesenquiries@acma.gov.au 

Tel: 1300 850 115

Post: The Manager, Networks and National Interests Section
Australian Communications and Media Authority
PO Box 13112 Law Courts
Melbourne VIC 8010

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