The Luzon Submarine Cable Project is located in three different regions in Northern Luzon. The main trunk is located in Calayan, Cagayan (Region 2), while the branches are in San Fernando, La Union (Region 1) and Baler, Aurora (Region 3). The project which was led by Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) supports the government’s agenda to continually develop and improve ICT facilities in the Philippines. The submarine cable connects the Philippines to an international communications cable that provides connectivity to the United States and Hong Kong. It also supports programs such as the National Broadband Plan, Free WiFi in Public Places Project, and National ICT Portal.
As part of the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Aperçu Consultants, Inc. was engaged in the following activities:
Oceanography of the Calayan Region
The bathymetry, seafloor topographic features, tides, surface waves, and regional sea currents were measured and assessed for the main trunk in Calayan Island. These were studied in order to see any impacts it may have on the main trunk and vice versa.
Submarine Natural Hazards
All seismic or fault related hazards such as ground rupture, tsunamis, submarine landslides, volcanic hazards, storm surges, and turbidity currents were assessed for the main trunk in Calayan Island and the submarine branches in San Fernando and Baler.
A baseline review and assessment of the nature of the benthic environment and validation of the presence of significant benthic coastal habitats was done for Calayan Island, San Fernando, and Baler. This evaluation was necessary to identify any susceptible habitats and organisms that may be subjected to stress associated with the project’s cable laying operations. As part of this an assessment of the nearshore marine habitats, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, coral reefs, reef associated fish, and macroinvertebrates was done. Local fishing practices and catch composition was also identified. In order to mitigate and reduce impacts: the least intrusive installation method was identified, all marine protected areas were avoided, safety zones were established for local fishermen, and collaboration with the Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy was done to reduce impacts on local eco-tourism.
Existing meteorological conditions such as climate, temperature, and winds were assessed in Calayan Island, San Fernando, and Baler.
Existing ambient noise levels in the vicinity of the landing station of the submarine cable was assessed. The noise impacts during the burial of the submarine cable in the nearshore areas of San Fernando and Baler were determined by comparing the results of the sound measurements with the criteria values in the NPCC Memorandum Circular No. 002.
A background of the demography, local services, and livelihood of all the stakeholders from the provincial level all the way to the barangay level was determined. Household surveys were also done to identify settlement patterns, livelihood profile, fishing activities, disaster risk reduction and management, and project perceptions. These surveys were important to inform and gain permission from locals who may be affected by the project. It also helped identify opportunities available for locals upon project operationalization.
Environmental Management Plan
Mitigation and management measures were developed based on all impact analyses for the water, air, and people modules. The impact management plan covered the entire project lifetime: pre-construction, construction, operation, and abandonment/decommissioning phases. A self-monitoring plan was made to ensure all impacts continually comply with the DENR Rules and Regulations.
The Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the project is currently undergoing Scoping and Screening with ECC Reference No. R03-03122018-4418.