Underwater fiber optic cable corridors damage coral reefs and the cable lines themselves, according to a three year study made public Thursday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The study urges Governor Jeb Bush to adopt more rigorous rules protecting Florida’s shoreline coral reefs from the telecommunications industry.
The report is authored by marine biologists, economists and telecom industry specialists who have been studying the governor’s management plan for placement of fiber optic cables from Broward County to the Bahamas since 2000.
Last December the team released findings showing that the governor’s plan, which would lay the cables on top of reefs, produces sustained environmental damage as undersea currents turn the cables into battering rams that rock back and forth, shattering the fragile coral.
The report recommends that the state instead bury cables under the reefs. The plan will not only be safer for the reefs, the authors say, but will provide protection to the delicate fiber optic cables themselves from damage by anchors, dredging, fishing drag nets, and even intentional damage by terrorists.
The costs to repair these damages would be passed on to the public consumers of Internet and telephone services.
Florida’s reefs are inhabited by sponges, crabs, turtles, lobsters and nearly 600 fish species. Because many coral reef organisms can tolerate only a narrow range of conditions, reef communities are highly sensitive to environmental or human caused damages.
"Florida’s reefs took thousands of years to develop," said Dan Meyer, general counsel for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "The least we can do is take minor precautions to keep them around for the next generation."