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Gov launches investigation into ‘suspicious fishing’ by French boat

Gov launches investigation into ‘suspicious fishing’ by French boat

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Gov launches investigation into ‘suspicious fishing’ by French boat

An investigation is underway after Jersey’s ‘fishing police’ chased away a French boat appearing to sweep through a restricted zone this morning.

Fishers using mobile gear are currently banned from accessing three sections of Jersey’s waters while scientific research into stocks of bream takes place.

However, ‘Alizé 3’ – a 16m x 6m fishing boat from Granville – appeared to be operating in the vicinity of one of those areas, off the north west Dirouilles, this morning. 

Route tracking data shows that the vessel moved up and down several times, before darting west as Jersey’s key marine patrol vessel Norman Le Brocq (pictured top), which recently underwent a £500,000 refit, entered the area.


Pictured: Vessels are not allowed to tow or use mobile gear in the three numbered zones due to sea bream research currently underway there.

A spokesperson for the Environment Department told Express: “The Marine Resources team is aware of activity involving a vessel fishing to the north of the island this morning. Our fisheries patrol vessel, Norman Le Brocq, was at sea at the time and attended the area. An investigation into the incident is underway.”

They added: “All fishermen with licences to operate in Jersey waters are reminded they must abide by the conditions attached to them.”

It follows furious protests at St. Helier harbour by both Norman and Breton fishermen, who claim the island’s new regime for controlling its waters after the UK’s departure from the EU is intentionally strangling them with red tape.This, they and the European Commission claim, breaks the UK-EU Brexit deal, which Jersey and the UK deny.

The island maintains that any limits that it has imposed on French fishermen – such as on zones and types of catch – are not discriminatory and based on scientific evidence about fish stocks, as per the terms of the Brexit deal.


Pictured: The route taken by the Alizée III. (Marine Traffic)

Environment Minister Deputy John Young last week explained why the Government had felt it necessary to close off certain areas to fishing so that bream studies could take place

In response to a challenge from Deputy Steve Ahier, who suggested the studies could have been postponed so as not to upset “delicate negotiations” with the French, Deputy Young said the study had been prompted by complaints from local fishermen about the level of bream stocks, which he said were “very valuable” and “in particularly sensitive areas of our marine environment."

“There have been complaints about dredging through those areas that have caused damage and so, a proposal was put to the French, last year I believe, to have those areas closed for a short period to allow their study to take place,” Deputy Young said. 

“It could have been deferred but the problem is this very time, April and May is the time that bream spawn and so therefore the conservation argument overwhelmed. 

“They are quite small areas and they won’t expect many boats at all but obviously it is open to stop it, at the moment I haven’t done so.”

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Posted by Davey West on
The article says:
Route tracking data shows that the vessel moved up and down several times, before darting west.
With tracking there is cast iron proof of a vessels movements and position. Should this vessel be in the banned zone ( after it has been closed ) then it should suffer having its licence suspended or removed as a consequence, that is if it has one ? Any vessel French or otherwise should have its AIS transponder or tracking on if not it should be automatically fined for trying to appear invisible. It should be a hard and fast rule, I forgot does not cut it sitting alongside the navstation equipment on a boat when eveything else is turned on when at sea.
Posted by john garner on
Despite the £500k "refit" how can this vessel "enforce" anything in isolation?
Posted by Guy de Faye on
What, exactly, is this Environment Department investigation looking into?

The facts of the incident seem pretty clear.

A French fishing vessel - Alize 3 - "swept through" a restricted area, where fishing is banned to protect bream spawning grounds. Apparently clear evidence for suspending or withdrawing a license to fish in Jersey waters - or an indication that we don't really know whether the Alize 3 was fishing or not.
Alternatively, this was outright illegal fishing and the "Alize 3" should be advised that it will be arrested next time it enters Jersey fishing grounds and comes within Jersey's jurisdiction.

Perhaps the investigation will determine how and why the offending ship was allowed to "get away" without being arrested for a clear offence under prevailing arrangements.
Is it the case that after a £500K refit, our "fisheries patrol boat" is not capable of making an arrest at sea?

Are Jersey authorities still "pussyfooting" with renegade French fishermen or will Jersey start "cracking down"? The Island cannot keep relying on the Royal Navy to intervene when things get difficult. It is vital that Jersey invests in the full range of equipment and technologies to effectively police our waters - the "poaching issue" will not go away any time soon.
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