The Marine Resources Panel has acknowledged the concerns of local fisherman about fishing quotas.
At its most recent meeting the Panel heard from the Jersey Fishermen’s Association that catch limits on some fish species are limiting the potential of their industry. The industry almost exclusively targets shellfish. The Panel heard that fishermen want an updated regime, which would allow more local control of fish stocks but would allow a number of boats to target fish in a sustainable way.
Under a UK/Jersey Fisheries Management Agreement (known as FMA) approved in 1996, Jersey agreed to put in place the same system for managing fish stocks as applies elsewhere in Europe, including the imposition of quotas for a number of species, several of which are important to local fishermen.
The FMA was approved after consultation with the local fishing industry and was a necessary step so the Island could extend its territorial waters from 3 to 12 miles.
It was also the first step towards limiting French vessels fishing in local waters and allowing the Island to manage shellfish stocks.
Assistant Director Marine Resources, Mike Smith said “The FMA was essential and has brought real benefits for the industry, but since then quota management has been developed to cover more vessels and an increased number of species.
“There may be a better way of managing quotas at a more local level that would allow more fishing opportunity for our vessels without depleting overall stocks, however it is a complex subject. The Environment Department has already started preliminary discussions on revising the FMA and included that work in its business plan for this year.”
He continued “We’ll start discussions in earnest once we have developed a strategy based on the requirements of the industry and set against the need to manage both stocks and the environment in a sustainable way and fulfil our international commitments.”
The Marine Resources Section of the Department of the Environment will shortly be launching a consultation which will give Islanders a chance to make recommendations on these and a wide range of other marine resource and industry related issues.