All British- and EU-registered commercial fishing boats working in Jersey’s territorial waters will have to report their position electronically, if politicians agree.
Currently, only boats over 12m in length must carry satellite monitoring equipment, and have it switched on, when in Jersey’s 800 square miles of sea.
However, that rule was approved nine years ago, and since then Jersey has taken full control of managing its waters, as a result of Brexit, and technology has also moved on apace.
Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf is now asking the States to update the 2014 regulations.
Explaining his rationale, he said: “Presently, the 2014 Regulations require all EU and British fishing boats of 12m overall length or longer to carry satellite monitoring equipment and to always have it operational.
“Boats under that length currently are currently not required by Jersey law to have or use such equipment, though most French registered boats do, in fact, carry satellite monitoring equipment and are obliged under French law to use it to report while in EU waters and in Jersey waters.
“There is general agreement in both Jrsey and France that the monitoring obligation should be enforceable by Jersey maritime authorities when EU boats are in Jersey waters, though different monitoring systems will be used on British - i.e. Jersey - and French boats.”
He added: “For Jersey boats of less than 12m overall length, the proposed amendments will require them to have on board and use vessel monitoring equipment, which is based on mobile phone networks, rather than satellite monitoring equipment.
“This new system can be referred to as ‘I-VMS’ (inshore vessel monitoring system).
“Because it operates on mobile phone technology, it is essentially a local or short-range system, as opposed to satellite VMS, which gives worldwide coverage.
“It should be noted that this new requirement will theoretically apply to all British registered fishing boats under 12m while in Jersey waters, though in practice it will only affect Jersey registered boats as there are currently no fishing boats registered in other British registries which are licensed to fish in Jersey waters.”
Deputy Renouf said that the move would allow Marine Resources officers to check if fishing boats were operating in permitted areas, to know when and for how long they were fishing, and to make informed policy decisions.
He added that Jersey fishermen had already expressed general support for the updated rules.
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