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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