French trawler sanctioned for breaching restrictions

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The Granville-based Alizé 3 was reported to fisheries officers in May after it was seen on marine-tracking websites working in a bream-spawning ground off the north coast.

An investigation into the incident has now been completed and the government has confirmed that ‘sanction commensurate with a first-time breach’ has been issued.

The JEP has requested full details of the sanction imposed but, at time of going to print, had not received a response.

A government spokesperson said: ‘That investigation, which would include speaking to the skipper and owner of the vessel, has been concluded.

‘Fisheries officers have the power to board any fishing vessel as set in the Sea Fisheries Law. However, the Covid pandemic has required new procedures to be put in place to ensure the safety of both officers and fishing vessel crew.

‘Consequently a reduced number of vessels have been boarded recently in comparison with previous years but boardings will occur, if required, to enforce legislation in place. With respect to the incident recently [with the Alizé 3] communications were conducted by radio, telephone and when the fishing vessel and the patrol vessel came alongside each other so boarding was not required.’

Three areas – two south of Jersey and one off the north coast – were closed to trawlers earlier this year to enable a study on the breeding habits of bream to take place. It is hoped the data can be used to inform future protection measures for the species.

The spokesperson added: ‘The bream nest survey was undertaken during the period set out in the licence conditions. These data are currently being analysed and results of the survey will be published in due course.’

During the incident, some local fishermen attempted to stop the boat while the Norman Le Brocq fisheries protection vessel was deployed. According to those listening to marine radio, the Alizé 3’s skipper told Jersey’s fisheries officers that he had been given permission to work in the area by French authorities.

The incident came at a particularly heightened period of tension between French and Jersey fishermen over the issuing of licences for access to the Island’s waters.

The French fishing fleet have been angered by the restrictions placed on licences with any French boats wishing to obtain an access permit having to provide data to show that they had operated in the area for a minimum of ten days in any of the past three years.

The timescale for vessels to provide historic data to gain access to Jersey water has been extended twice, with French boats now being given until the end of September to apply.

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