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The state of fishing in Jersey


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I thought some people might find this interesting.

 

Jersey Evening Post Editorial

 

01/09/05

 

 

Fish stocks under threat?

 

 

JERSEY has always looked to the sea to earn at least part of its living. In the Middle Ages the Island was famous for its dried and salted fish. Later it became the headquarters of a cod fishing industry that saw Islanders crossing the Atlantic to fish in the prolific waters off Canada. Today our fishing fleet catches crabs, lobsters and some wet fish, notably that staple of the modern restaurant menu, the bass.

 

Looking at the wide sea from the safety of the shore, it is hard to imagine that its resources could ever be depleted. Sadly, there is increasing evidence that, for one reason or another, stocks of the species on which our fishermen depend are under threat.

 

Earlier this year it emerged that lobster catches had suddenly declined by as much as 40 per cent. It now seems that far fewer large bass are being caught this year than in previous seasons.

 

It is, of course, dangerous to jump to conclusions where fish and shellfish stocks are concerned. The dearth of lobsters could be explained by climatic factors which have upset normal patterns of growth and moulting, but to substantiate this theory a great deal of complex research would be required.

 

Equally, it is difficult to say with any precision what has led to the scarcity of bass that has been reported. However, there is strong circumstantial evidence that points in one direction - towards the pair trawlers which attack the dense bass shoals to be found off the west coast of Guernsey during the winter.

 

The trawlers' guilt cannot be taken for granted unless the case against them is substantiated scientifically. That said, it is hard to believe that powerful vessels towing massive nets capable of catching tons of overwintering bass in a single shot has no effect on summer migration into shallower, warmer summer waters - such as ours.

 

There is, meanwhile, a paradox in the attitude towards what happens off Guernsey's west coast. Our sister island's fishermen and administration have been greatly exercised about Jersey vessels fishing on Guernsey grounds that they have traditionally been free to use. Sadly, there are far fewer signs of their eagerness to investigate pair trawling activity on their doorstep that, quite conceivably, is doing great damage to a precious resource - the breeding stock of mature bass that represents the future of the species.

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I'm very sorry to hear about this worrying news, the Channel Islands are a very special place for local and visiting anglers alike. I had hoped that maybe the islands would remain a stronghold for sport fisherman in search of something a little special, to learn that this is threatened through greed and ignorance is very saddening.

 

I am very tired of hearing 'climatic factors' mentioned in the same same breath as dwindling stocks. As this is an editorial I would expect nothing less in the interests of a balanced article and the small mention it gets is encouraging, however I personally think its Bull. Generally I believe far to much weight is placed on this change as it is used as a defense by both those destroying fisheries and those employed to protect them, who exhibit nothing but complete apathy to what is really happening under their noses.

 

Lets for a minute say that the collapse of Cod on the east coast of England and the 40% reduction in Jersey Lobster catches is purely down to climatic change. Surely if this was the case and in the light of no currently effective environmental controls to halt global warming why are these severely threatened species still being exploited to the hilt?

 

As regards the Bass no doubt those on the Guernsey Sea Fisheries Board will yet again allow this rape to continue next year, seemingly believing that they morally own the fish swimming in their waters. The reality is that these fish come from far and wide to spawn there, arriving from within a very large catchment. This should be regarded as a privilege to which they are only the temporary custodians.

 

 

Once again the writing is on the wall but not big enough for them to read!

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Am I correct in saying that in Jersey and Guernsey we currently allow pair trawling? Was also wondering if there had been any moves to avoid the massacre that happened off of Guernsey last winter, a la 'floating city'!

B.A.S.S. member

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Grant:

Am I correct in saying that in Jersey and Guernsey we currently allow pair trawling?  Was also wondering if there had been any moves to avoid the massacre that happened off of Guernsey last winter, a la 'floating city'!

Guernsey definitely do allow pair trawling, not sure about Jersey. The problem is that the majority of pair trawling is done outside the 12 mile limit where neither island can do anything about it. The french pair teams are allowed inside the guernsey 6-12 zone due to some farcical historic rights. Only 2 guernsey boats pair trawl, and these mostly work for bream in winter as a team, but individually for normal fish in summer. As regards the 'floating city', the www.saveourbass.com team have been in discussions with Guernset sea fisheries recently. There seems to be a reluctance to stop the winter fishery due to the current scientific advice that there are lots of bass around, and the fact that it's good money for the commercial guys at a slack time of year. Other things such as bag limits for pleasure vessels especially visiting charter boats are being discussed also.

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