Final Environmental Assessment and Permit for Cable Through Marianas Trench Marine National Monument
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Press Release
September 13, 2019
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized an environmental assessment and issued a permit for a submarine fiber optic telecommunications cable to pass through the Trench Unit of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.
RTI Solutions, Inc. requested a Right-of-Way permit from the Service to install the cable connecting Japan, Guam, and Australia. The cable, proposed to be laid directly on the seabed through the Monument, would provide telecommunications interconnectivity between Guam and Australia.
The Service developed an environmental assessment to evaluate the effects of the Service issuing a Right-of-Way permit for the proposed cable through the Monument. The draft EA was available for public review and comment from June 12 – July 12.
The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument is approximately 95,216 square miles (roughly the size of Oregon) and consists of submerged lands and some of the waters of the Mariana Archipelago within three designated units. The Trench Unit and the Volcanic Unit are managed as units of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands maintains all authority for managing the three islands within the Islands Unit. Presidential Proclamation 8335 established the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in January 2009 and assigned management responsibility to the Secretary of the Interior in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce. The Interior Secretary placed the Trench and Volcanic Units within the National Wildlife Refuge System as the Mariana Trench and Mariana Arc of Fire National Wildlife Refuges and further delegated the management responsibility to the Service.
The Service evaluated the proposed telecommunications cable through the Monument in consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Defense to ensure resource protection obligations under the Proclamation and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act are met.