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Jersey seizes French whelk pots as new licence regime beds in

Jersey seizes French whelk pots as new licence regime beds in

Thursday 16 March 2023

Jersey seizes French whelk pots as new licence regime beds in

Thursday 16 March 2023

Fisheries officers have recently seized two strings of whelk pots belonging to a French fisherman and are investigating to see if he was licensed to catch them.

It is the second seizure of equipment since Jersey took control of its territorial waters after the UK left the European Union.

The pots were taken by the Government’s Marine Resources team on 1 March within Jersey’s territorial waters. 

If they are deemed to have been used illegally, the fisher may be prosecuted.

The seizure was revealed publicly recently at a recent Scrutiny panel hearing.

Last September, two French fishermen who caught whelks in Jersey waters without a licence were fined £3,000 each.

Skipper Sebastien Martin (43) and boat owner Eddy Blanchet (49) used whelk pots in May and June last year but claimed they did so by mistake.

The Magistrate concluded that their actions had been down to carelessness rather than a deliberate act.

Fisheries Norman Le Brocq.jpg

Pictured: Jersey's Marine Resources team police the island's territorial waters to enforce fisheries legislation.

The issue of which French vessels are eligible to fish in Jersey’s 800 sq miles of territorial seas a contention issue since the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.

Jersey has issued licences to 136 French boats and applied conditions to those on 1 February this year, determining what each licensee can catch, where and when, using what gear.

Only French boats which are licensed by Jersey’s Environment Minister are allowed to fish around Jersey, and those vessels have to then comply with the conditions governing the ‘nature and extent’ of their activity. 

For whelk fishermen, this includes a limit on the number of pots they can lay.

At the time the conditions were imposed, Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf said he was “reasonably sure” that they would be accepted by French fishers.

In contrast, a fleet of French boats protested outside the Harbour when the Government first tried to set conditions in April 2020.

Their demonstration attracted worldwide media attention and was considered one of the first flashpoints of the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union.

However, after last month’s application of conditions, only around a dozen fishermen expressed discontent and Deputy Renouf said he was confident that these would be resolved through dialogue and Jersey’s ‘no surprises’ approach.

As part of the post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal, Jersey has also introduced a policy for when licensed vessels are replaced.

Since the policy was introduced recently, six applications from France to replace a vessel have been approved, or are about to be approved.

Most have been allowed under an exemption clause in Jersey’s legislation because they were replaced before the trade deal was signed. Of those, 2-3 have been able to be replaced with a boat which is outside the terms of Jersey’s replacement vessel policy. 

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