The vessel – called the Norman Le Brocq – has returned at a time of tension between local and French fishermen, after an amnesty allowing French vessels to continue fishing in Jersey waters without a licence was extended to the end of June to give boat owners more time to complete the required paperwork.
Last week, Environment Minister John Young said that the Marine Resources team would be increased and brought up to strength in both equipment and manpower, and that the Norman Le Brocq would assist increased enforcement action in Jersey’s waters upon its return.
Greg Morel, director at Marine Resources, said the updated vessel was capable of performing multiple duties and could even assist in search and rescue operations if necessary.
‘She was really kitted out to do exactly what we needed,’ said Mr Morel. ‘Which was a combination of our compliance work, our enforcement work – which we have to do – in combination with our science platform and then as a general asset to the Island.’
The Norman Le Brocq has also been fitted with a new, larger RIB that serves as a boarding craft and can be quickly deployed from the back of the boat.
‘It’s mainly an enforcement tool,’ said Mr Morel. ‘Officers will disembark from this vessel, hop into the “sea rider”, as we call it, and then head across to the fishing boat and board it.’
He added that the vessel’s engines had not been changed as part of the refit, because they still had ‘plenty of life left in them’.
‘The refit really covered off what I would call some of the accommodation space, the electronics packages, and then updating some of the other mechanical systems such as the hydraulics and the bilge systems,’ he said.
‘From our perspective what we’ve got is a boarding boat [RIB] which is a bit more capable. It’s a little bit larger, it gives us a little bit more capacity to get people out and safely transferred between the bigger Norman Le Brocq – our main vessel – and a fishing boat.’
He added: ‘The other main change is the electronics on board, which give us a much better understanding of our area. It means we have a better radar picture, a better navigation picture, and we have some other updates that allow us to see vessels around us in terms of camera facilities. There are some other updates in terms of the science work we do on board as well.’