Dragging nets along the seabed to capture fish around Les Ecréhous and Les Minquiers could be outlawed to help secure the long-term future of the fishing industry.
Dredging and trawling the seabed might be a popular method for catching a wide variety of fish, crustaceans and molluscs, but can also damage sensitive seabed life.
In the internationally-recognised offshore reefs of Les Minquiers and Les Ecréhous, that life consists of extensive areas of seagrass, maerl and kelp – species vital for the wellbeing of many commercial fish and shellfish.
Now in a bid to help secure the long-term future of those species – and therefore that of the whole fishing industry – the Department for the Environment are set to introduce new regulations that would stop fisherman from employing ‘mobile fishing techniques’ in the protected Ramsar zones. But first, they’ll need approval from a majority of States Members.
A proposition lodged by the Minister for the Environment Deputy Steve Luce and set to be debated in September moves for the prohibition of trawl nets or dredges in the offshore reefs, and suggests fines for those found guilty of doing so.
Deputy Luce wrote: “These measures are needed in order to safeguard the ecological health of these shallow marine areas which, in turn, protect habitats that are known to play an important role in the lifecycle of many commercial fish and shellfish species. This will assist Jersey in making its fishing industry sustainable over the longer term, and will assist the States of Jersey with meeting its obligations to multilateral environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, RAMSAR and OSPAR.”
The proposition is the fruit of a research collaboration between the Société Jersiaise and Jersey Seasearch, as well as the support of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association who helped in discussions with French fishermen and officials.
Speaking in May as the project concluded, Deputy Luce said that he was, “…proud that Jersey has been proactive and forward thinking in seeking to protect our important marine resources for current and future generations.”
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