Trade deal sparks ‘promising new era’ for sustainable management of Jersey’s fisheries
A Scrutiny report examining the fisheries section of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) has found it in Jersey’s best interest to remain included in the TCA, following the 90-day ‘cooling off’ period.
The Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Panel found Jersey’s appointment as the licensing authority to be an opportunity to preserve and enhance the marine environment, whilst addressing prevailing access and management issues around shared fishing waters.
The report identifies that Jersey’s inclusion in the TCA would mean that management of its waters are no longer shared with France, as was the case under the Granville Bay Treaty. Instead, Jersey will be able to manage its waters as it sees fit and impose non-discriminatory management restrictions on a scientifically justified basis. This promises opportunity for better management of fishing activity in Jersey’s waters and the development of an ecologically and economically sustainable approach.
However, the Panel has found the process of collecting and evaluating evidence in order to issue licences to qualified EU vessels to be challenging and complex. In addition, there are concerns that Jersey’s Government is not adequately resourced in marine resources and regulatory services provided by the States Vet in issuing export health certificates.
Jersey’s fishing industry receives no financial Government support with regard to licensing fees, safety equipment and vessel upgrades, unlike EU fishing fleets. Whilst the Minister for the Environment, Deputy John Young, has confirmed that a support package is being looked at, the Panel believes this is not being expedited quickly enough.
The Panel has made sixteen recommendations to the Minister for the Environment, some of which include:
- To consider what measures can be implemented for the benefit of sustainable fisheries management and conservation.
- To carefully consider conditions that should be attached to licences to improve fisheries management and increase opportunities for Jersey’s low impact fleet.
- To provide short-term financial support to the fishing industry and assurance that licensing procedures will be non-discriminatory from 1 May for Jersey and EU vessels.
- To prepare a business case for a new, dedicated Government post to assist the fishing industry with paperwork and identifying new markets for Jersey-caught fish.
- To urgently address the inadequate resourcing for the inspection of shellfish exports and issuing of health certificates.
- To ensure Jersey is fully equipped to manage any issues of enforcement following the transition period and to provide an update on progress made in relation to the recruitment of additional enforcement officers.
The Panel’s full report, including all findings and recommendations will be made available on the States Assembly website.
Constable Mike Jackson, Chair of the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Panel said: “Jersey’s participation in the TCA has the potential to see the emergence of a promising new era for sustainable fisheries management and the conservation of Jersey’s territorial waters. However, achieving this will not be without its challenges and what is evident from our findings is that Government needs to provide much-needed support to Jersey’s fishing industry, both financially, but also at a practical level with helping the industry with export-related paperwork. Additionally, the industry needs assurance from Government that it will promote the interests of Jersey’s fishing fleet and that any previous imbalance under the Granville Bay Treaty will be suitably addressed moving forward.”
Scrutiny Press Release.