The report, commissioned by Blue Marine Foundation, says that the public awareness created by the establishment of national parks could provide the model for a similar designation for marine parks, which it says could boost tourism, sustainable fishing, public health and economic recovery. Jersey features among the report’s case studies and Senator Farnham has expressed enthusiasm for the marine park initiative.
In the report, Senator Farnham says: ‘A marine park would protect and showcase the very best of Jersey’s sea habitats and boost its reputation as a forward-thinking and responsible jurisdiction.’
The report also states that the gifting of the seabed by the Crown to the people of Jersey in 2015 enables unique opportunities for community stewardship of the marine environment.
Charles Clover, executive director of Blue Marine Foundation, said that it was remarkable that, 70 years after the formal designation of national parks on land, no sea parks existed.
‘In the early 1950s, people were putting into practice an idea that had been around since Yellowstone in the 1870s, but they stopped at the shore. Back then, just after the war, the sea was still the “cruel sea”; it was a bit intimidating, underexplored but still endless and bountiful. Now we have a different perspective; we are more connected to the ocean through TV and we are more aware of its vulnerability and how much our lives depend on it.
‘Our natural heritage is right there, just off the beach, but paradoxically the public is hardly involved in the enjoyment or the stewardship of this island nation’s greatest asset. No wonder the barometer of informed opinion is swinging towards the concept of marine parks around Britain’s coastline, with the pioneering model of Plymouth’s National Marine Park leading the way,’ Mr Clover said.
Later this month Jersey’s draft Island Plan will be published for public consultation. It is expected to incorporate changes to Jersey’s Coastal National Park recommended in a recent report which includes extension of the park boundaries on the seaward side down to the low-water mark. If approved, the extension of the park to include beaches – also including the tidal range around the offshore reefs – would make Jersey’s Coastal National Park unique.
The expansion of the National Park – also including significant additional areas along the north coast, in St Martin and at Grouville marsh – has been welcomed by the National Trust for Jersey as a step towards meeting the aim of the International High Ambition Coalition, which seeks to protect 30% of land and marine environments by 2030.