18 May 2017
The Minister for the Environment is proposing measures to further protect the internationally-recognised offshore reefs of Les Minquiers and Les Écréhous.
Over the past few years the Department of the Environment has established a network of ‘no mobile fishing gear’ zones along the north, east and south coasts. These are designed to protect important seabed areas from damage linked to trawling and dredging.
It is proposed this protection will now be extended to Jersey’s offshore reefs with the creation of a zone of almost 50km2 at Les Minquiers and one of more than 15km2 at Les Écréhous.
The reefs are home to extensive areas of seagrass, maerl and kelp. These are important in the breeding cycles of fish, crustaceans and molluscs, including many commercial species, so the protection will benefit the local marine environment and the fishing industries by increasing the stock of marine life in our waters.
The project to establish these zones has taken several years to achieve and involved a number of organisations working together. The Société Jersiaise and Jersey Seasearch provided data on the marine environment and helped with the production of accurate habitat maps. Jersey Fishermen’s Association members helped steer the project through discussions with French fishermen and officials under the joint management approach set out in the Bay of Granville Agreement (see below).
The Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce said “I am delighted that we can bring this project to its conclusion as I know that a huge amount of work has gone into reaching this point. It is to the credit of all involved, from the Société and Seasearch to the commercial fishermen’s associations, that we have come so far. Once again we should be proud that Jersey has been proactive and forward thinking in seeking to protect our important marine resources for current and future generations.”
If these zones are approved by the States, it will take the areas protected by ‘no mobile gear’ zones in Jersey territorial waters to more than 150km2 - a much greater area than the entire area of the Island.