Introducing seabed “cable corridors” could help reduce the risk of telecommunications outages like the one that struck Shetland, it has been claimed.
The archipelago in the North Sea lost phone, broadband and mobile services last month after a subsea cable was damaged.
Faroese Telecom, the cable operator, said they believed it had been cut by fishing vessels.
It was later confirmed by the Scottish Government that a fishing trawler hit the primary cable.
There are now proposals for a designated corridor for undersea infrastructure cables to run along.
It is hoped that these would give greater certainty to fishermen, as well as reducing the risk of telecommunications outages in future.
A debate on fisheries is due to take place at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Beatrice Wishart explained the challenges being faced by Shetland.
“This debate is a chance for the voice of Scotland’s fishing communities to be heard,” she said.
“Shetland makes a significant contribution to our economy but it is facing ever-increasing restrictions on the areas that can be fished because of at sea infrastructure like offshore windfarms or cables on the sea floor running to and from such infrastructure.
“There is a real feeling that traditional fishing grounds are being ever encroached upon, pitting energy security and the need to reach net zero against the catching of nutritious fish and food security.
“Designated cable corridors would help to give certainty about where is safe to fish and reduce the risk of telecommunications outages like the one that struck Shetland last month.”
Sheila Keith, executive officer at Shetland Fishermen’s Association, backed the proposals.
“We are delighted to see parliamentary support to minimise the constraints on the fishing industry from new offshore wind developments,” she said.
“The establishment of cable corridors would show co-operation in determining responsible co-existence and a respect from developers towards recognising the importance of Shetland and Scotland’s fishermen.
“It would be a good start of working towards Scotland being producers of green energy to match the green, sustainable, low-carbon food that fishermen have provided for centuries.”
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