A marine conservation charity has "urgently" called on the Environment Minister to reinstate the limits previously included in fishing licences for French vessels to improve sustainability.
The Government announced on 24 September that some licence conditions would remain on hold to allow further technical discussions with the EU to continue.
The European Commission had previously argued that the inclusion of these conditions - one of which places limits on days at sea - breached the UK-EU Brexit deal.
Since then, the Government has said that it will issue 64 full licences and 31 temporary licences to French boats – the vast majority of them vessels working out of nearby Norman ports. Some of the licence conditions will be suspended for now, however.
75 boats have been deemed not to meet the criteria, nor come anywhere close to it, and these boats have been given 30 days’ notice. After this, they will not be allowed to fish around Jersey and its reefs.
While the Blue Marine Foundation welcomed the end of the transition period for fishing vessels within Jersey waters, they said important changes were required to ensure that the licences comply with the terms of the UK/EU trade agreement.
Along with the National Trust for Jersey, they have issued an urgent call to the Minister for the Environment, Deputy John Young, to reinstate two sets of conditions previously included in the licences to improve the sustainability of local fishing stocks.
These required an economic link between the vessel and the island and imposed restrictions on vessel size for those using mobile gear or nets. These stated that vessels over 12 m in size or 221 kW required written authorisation from the Minister and outlined a sunset clause that would see the use of these vessels in Jersey waters finishing by 31 December 2029, at the latest.
“Jersey has the legal right to insert conditions on the fishing licences it grants, provided they apply equally to all vessels," Charles Clover, Executive Director of BLUE, said.
"The trade agreement also gives it an obligation to promote the long-term health of the stocks within its waters. We believe that this cannot be done without phasing out vessels over 12 metres and imposing an economic link, so vessel owners have an interest in maintaining and improving Jersey's stocks of seafood for the future."
Express recently explored the sustainability of fish stocks in local waters on the Bailiwick Podcast...
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