Jersey is to ask the UK to consider agreeing to a better way of managing fish quotas for local commercial fishermen.
A team of officers has been set up to lead the talks. It includes representatives from the Department of the Environment, and the Economic Development, Chief Minister’s and the Law Officers departments. The process is likely to take significant time; DEFRA have indicated that whilst they are also keen to see a revision, they are suffering from a cut in staff numbers.
The European Union is about to adopt an updated Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), so attention is currently focused on the effect of European regulations on the management of fish stocks in local waters.
Jersey has its own territorial sea but 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 elsewhere in Europe. This includes quotas for a number of species, several of which are important to local fishermen.
An updated Common Fisheries Policy is unlikely to make significant changes in how our quota is managed at an EU level, but Jersey fishermen think this is a good time to re-open talks with the UK to update our fisheries management agreement and try to get fish quotas changed.
The Environment Department has already started preliminary discussions with DEFRA (UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) on the issue and a further meeting is planned in January.
It is considered that the issue of fish stocks must take account of the fishing industry’s desire for better commercial opportunities, while also ensuring that the marine resource is not depleted. Many species migrate and so while one particular type of fish may be plentiful in Jersey it may be at risk in other parts of the world.
The Assistant Minister for Economic Development with responsibilities for fisheries matters, Deputy Carolyn Labey, said: “This is a complex matter; Jersey must play its part in the sustainable management of fish stocks which may not respect international boundaries, but it is important that our industry can get maximum benefit from the quotas available to them. I am very supportive of revising our Fisheries Management Agreement with the UK and it is a positive step that we now have a team to take that forward.”