Under the theme ‘Critical Infrastructure across the Oceans—protecting submarine cables and the marine environment,’ the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) held its largest Plenary meeting in the organisation’s history with a diverse submarine cables and related industry audience of about 150 delegates from 14-16 May 2019 in San Diego, California USA.

The annual ICPC Plenary was an excellent opportunity to engage with submarine cable owners, suppliers, installers, surveyors, academics and service providers regarding the planning, installation, operation, protection and maintenance of submarine telecommunications and power cables worldwide.

Day 1 included two presentations focused on offshore wind energy and its interaction with other seabed users. Throughout the day, presentations ranged from submarine cable security, repair times, natural hazards, cable burial and growing concerns about deep seabed mining with the potential to harm existing submarine cable networks. Presentations covering the ongoing Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) negotiations were followed by a lively question and answer session. Day 2 covered topics such as armour wire protection for submarine cables, distributed fibre sensing, marine maintenance and submarine cable law. Day 3 included insightful presentations discussing the protection of marine cultural heritage and natural resources, enhancing network resilience and the coexistence of offshore energy and submarine cables. Towards the end of day, the winner of the ICPC-sponsored 2018 Rhodes Academy submarine cables writing contest, presented: “Protection of Submarine Cables against Acts of Terrorism.”

Newly elected ICPC Chairman, Malcom Eccles of Basslink reacted: ‘This year’s Plenary was an outstanding event. The agenda was full of diverse subject matter from distinguished invited speakers and experts from ICPC Member organisations. I am very proud to be part of a group of individuals who all want the same thing—the protection of submarine cables worldwide from both man-made and natural hazards.”

The 2019 Plenary was also a place to recognise the outgoing ICPC Marine Environmental Adviser, Professor Lionel Carter for his 16 years of outstanding service to the submarine cable community. After a standing ovation from the delegation, Lionel ‘passed the baton’ to newly appointed Dr Michael Clare (National Oceanography Centre Southampton) who took up the role on 1 June 2019. During the Plenary, Dr Clare also presented: “New direct measurements of powerful seafloor hazards provide insights for cable routing and design.”

If you were unable to attend the 2019 ICPC Plenary, please visit: https://www.iscpc.org/events/2019-plenary-meeting/ for its daily highlights. If interested in participating in next year’s ICPC Plenary, to be held in Spain, be sure to submit an abstract in response to the ICPC Plenary Call for Papers that will be issued later this year.