Jersey ministers have today, Friday 24 September 2021, held discussions with their Normandy counterparts about the Island’s new fishing licensing scheme.
The annual Normandy Summit, although not solely focused on fishing, was a timely opportunity to provide an update on licensing methodology and the progress the Island’s Marine Resources officers are making in the ongoing analysis of data and evidence.
After the UK’s exit from the EU, an interim arrangement was put in place, allowing French boats holding a previous Granville Bay Licence to continue operating in Jersey waters while the new Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) system was being established.
The TCA requires evidence of fishing activity over a track record period to be demonstrated in order for access to be granted.
47 licences were issued, to boats with VMS satellite tracking technology, in the first tranche earlier this year. The transitional period was extended until the end of September for other, mainly smaller, boats to allow time for more data to be submitted.
In recent weeks, further evidence of fishing track records has been received. There are a small number of vessels for which evidence is still being reviewed, and therefore an announcement on licensing decisions will be made next week.
The new licences will come into effect 30 days after being issued, with the current transitional arrangements continuing until then. Those vessels that could qualify, if they were to submit a little more information, will be given a temporary licence and have until 31 January 2022 to provide it. All unlicensed vessels must stop fishing in Jersey waters 30 days from next week’s announcement.
Jersey’s Minister for the Environment, Deputy John Young, said: “We have, now, three categories of applicant; those who clearly have enough evidence for permits, those who still need to submit a little more information, and those who do not qualify due to not having provided evidence of fishing in Jersey waters during the relevant period.
“I have been pleased to see the progress made in recent weeks, with more information coming through, and I must thank the officers for their tireless work in reviewing the data.
“We must protect our waters from overfishing, ensuring activity is sustainable and in line with the levels of fishing effort we saw before Brexit. Some vessels that had the former Granville Bay permits do not qualify for TCA licences because they did not actually fish here.”
The licensed boats will be published in due course on the UK Single Issuing Authority website.
Some licence conditions will remain on hold to allow further technical discussions with the EU to continue.
Jersey’s External Relations Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, said: “Jersey’s relationship with our friends in Normandy, France and the wider European Union is a vital one, and we will continue to work closely together on the remaining outstanding complex issues.
“We are thankful that the additional data came through recently which has put us in a much clearer position and will help ensure that those boats which regularly fished here before are able to continue doing so.
“We will be writing to the EU, via the UK, in the coming days and will be in a position, next week, to confirm which vessels will be issued with licences. However, Jersey continues to welcome new track record information, and will consider it fairly. Further licences can continue to be issued where the evidence exists.”