Charles Clover, executive director of the Blue Marine Foundation which champions ocean conservation around the world, has urged the government to progress plans to provide better protection for the Island’s marine environment.
The National Trust for Jersey and Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham have also backed calls for areas of Jersey’s coastal waters to be protected.
A national report commissioned by the Blue Marine Foundation cited Jersey as a potential model for such an initiative, and said it could provide myriad benefits such as improvements to tourism and sustainable fishing.
Mr Clover said: ‘Jersey now has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to show leadership by creating a marine park in its waters that delivers for people and nature and rebrands the Island as one of the world’s most accessible marine eco-tourism destinations.
‘To put it another way, it would be disappointing if a marine park were not included in the Island Plan that is in the process of development.’
Senator Farnham said the celebration of World Oceans Day acted as a ‘timely reminder’ of the importance of protecting the marine environment.
He said: ‘I remain fully committed to the creation of a marine national park – work is continuing with Blue Marine and I am considering bringing an amendment to the Draft Island Plan, if necessary.’
The minister added that he hoped a marine national park would not be designated ‘just by name’ but would include legitimate protections from planning to help preserve local sea habitats.
‘There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes and we have identified the areas that would need to be protected, while at the same time maintaining a sustainable fishing environment for both Jersey and French fishers,’ he said.
Meanwhile, proposals to extend the boundaries of the Coastal National Park have been put forward as part of the bridging Island Plan – a document governing future development in Jersey – to include intertidal zones and the shallow waters around the offshore reefs. The plan is due to be debated by the States Assembly in spring 2022.
National Trust for Jersey chief executive Charles Alluto said: ‘We are reviewing the bridging Island Plan and we welcome the fact that the boundaries of the park were expanded, although our ambition is that it can include more areas of high biodiversity.’
He added: ‘However, that is very much a planning perspective – with World Oceans Day it is about looking at our marine environment. The key is sustainability, including sustainable fishing and that involves everyone working together. We have such a rich marine environment and the value of that is something we must not forget.’
In 2015, ownership of Jersey’s foreshore and seabed was transferred from the Crown to the public of Jersey – something which Mr Alluto said was ‘easily forgotten’. ‘The people of Jersey are the key stakeholders in this debate,’ he said.
Last month, a French trawler was caught working in a protected bream-spawning ground off the Island’s north coast. Assistant Environment Minister Gregory Guida said that Jersey would lodge a complaint with the European Commission over the incident, in which local boats and fisheries officers intercepted the foreign vessel.