Jersey 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.
A marine park would be a ‘gold-standard’ Marine Protected Area (MPA), not dissimilar to Lyme Bay, where low-impact fisheries can operate and be expected to benefit from the additional protection afforded by the designation.
Jersey’s beautiful marine environment, with its kelp forests, seagrass and maerl beds, showcase some of the best shallow marine habitats in the British Isles. Many species call these waters home, such as dolphins, seals, tuna and on occasion, even the odd sunfish.
The life within these waters also provides sustenance for Jersey’s land-based wildlife such as puffins, razorbills and terns.
A marine park would look to provide protection to ’high-value habitats’ – habitats that are essential for biodiversity, carbon sequestration (the ability of a habitat type to ‘lock away’ carbon into the seabed), sustaining fisheries and the wellbeing of Jersey’s population and would protect those from damaging activities such as dredging and bottom-trawling.
A Jersey marine park would be an extension of existing MPAs including Les Minquiers and Les Ecrehous. It would be an area closed to any vessel fishing in Jersey waters using bottom-towed gear, regardless of nationality.
The majority of Jersey’s fishermen use static fishing gear, pots and nets, and a marine park designation would create a safe space for these fishing methods. Indeed, in the absence of bottom-towed fishing gear (trawling and dredging), the fish and shellfish they target are expected to see a revival and fishing gear conflicts will reduce.
Such an area would remain open to low-impact, static fishing methods such as potting, diving and netting.
The States of Jersey have already made a strong commitment to marine conservation by establishing several areas protected from dredging and bottom-trawling at Les Ecréhous, Les Minquiers and inshore areas around the Island.
These areas cover around 6.6 per cent of Jersey’s territorial waters. Marine habitats are already showing a strong recovery in these areas, benefitting fish stocks and other marine species.
However, the rest of Jersey’s waters currently remain unprotected. A marine park (still open to all fisheries except bottom-towed fishing) would see this increase to over 30 per cent of Jersey’s territorial waters.
Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) is committed to working with the fishing community to ensure their livelihoods thrive within the area while seeing biodiversity increases and stock recovery.
Designation of a marine park should include Jersey’s shallow marine habitats, extending down to a depth of 20 metres.
The area under consideration covers approximately 900 kilometres square, over 30 per cent of Jersey’s territorial waters. Such an area includes habitats that are important for low-impact fishery provision, carbon drawdown, climate-change impact management and eco-tourism.
By protecting such a significant area, Jersey would be aligning with the Global Ocean Alliance, an intergovernmental group of 80 countries of which Jersey’s closest neighbours, France and the United Kingdom are members.
The Global Ocean Alliance’s central goal is to protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030. Their target is to halt the accelerating loss of biodiversity and protect the vital ecosystems that are the source of our economic security.
Learn more about what a marine park would mean for Jersey here.