damaged Shetland subsea cable

The SFA has urged offshore wind developers to protect the local Shetland’s fishing industry. Photo: SFA

On Thursday the 20 October 2022, the Shetland Islands experienced a communications outage after subsea cables connecting the islands to the mainland were damaged.

Around 23,000 residents on the islands suffered a complete outage of phone, broadband and mobile services after two subsea cables owned by Faroese Telecom, were knocked out of action. Telecom companies feared the outage would last several days but thanks to engineers, by the following day, Friday 21 October, broadband and mobile services were restored through a temporary fix as engineers continued the repairs.

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Local MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrat MP, Beatrice Wishart wrote to the Government to confirm what was the cause. She asked two questions:

“To ask the Scottish Government, following the major telecommunications outage on Shetland on 20 October 2022 reportedly being caused by a fishing trawler hitting the primary telecommunications cable between the Scottish mainland and Shetland, whether it believes this to be the case, and if so, whether it (a) is able to confirm what kind of vessel it believes to have caused the damage and (b) was a local vessel,” and,

“To ask the Scottish Government, following the major telecommunications outage on Shetland on 20 October 2022 reportedly being caused by a fishing trawler hitting the primary telecommunications cable between the Scottish mainland and Shetland, what evidence it has that the damage was caused in this way; whether it will share all evidence it has, and whether it has ruled out other possible causes.”

To which Scottish Nationalist Party, MSP Ivan McKee answered:

“The Scottish Government received confirmation from the Maritime Coastguard Agency on 20 October 2022 that a UK registered fishing vessel was the cause of damage to the subsea cable affecting telecommunications on Shetland.”

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UK-registered fishing vessel damaged Shetland subsea cable

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