In October 2023, the Government of Jersey released the draft of its first ever Marine Spatial Plan (MSP), outlining increased protection of Jersey’s waters from 6 per cent to 27 per cent.
The Jersey (JMSP) includes the development of a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that will be closed to more damaging fishing activities such as bottom trawling and dredging (also known as mobile gear fishing). By allowing sustainable, low-impact fishing to continue within these MPAs, they will support the environment, fisheries, economy and local community.
The JMSP identifies the Island’s key sensitive marine habitats such as kelp, maerl and shallow reefs, and highlights that Jersey needs to expand its protected areas to include these vital ecosystems. The proposed MPAs will play a key role in securing the long-term health of Jersey’s waters, the habitats and species that lie within, and the numerous services they provide.
The public consultation is now open until 2 January 2024 and it needs your support. Have a look at the JMSP by following this link and have your say on the future of Jersey’s seas by completing the online consultation form.
What is the JMSP?
The JMSP brings together all the scientific evidence and knowledge about Jersey’s marine environment and identifies how Jersey’s marine space should be managed. It takes into account all marine uses, from large-scale commercial activities to everyday recreational use. The outcome of the MSP process is to make sure our marine environment is managed in a way to allow it to be enjoyed for generations to come.
What does the JMSP mean for Jersey’s marine environment?
The JMSP recommends that several MPAs are designated, covering key sensitive habitats, particularly kelp and maerl beds. The MPAs proposed by the plan would cover approximately 27 per cent of Jersey’s territorial waters and would be closed to all mobile fishing gear such as dredging and bottom trawling.
Jersey’s marine habitats, including the areas proposed for protection, support a healthy, functioning ecosystem and provide a variety of services to the Island including food provision, nutrient cycling, climate change mitigation, coastal protection, and recreation and wellbeing. The protection created by the MPAs will be key in boosting local biodiversity and fisheries while helping the Island to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.
What are mobile and static fishing gears?
Mobile fishing is where gear is pulled through the water column or along the seabed. This type of fishing is one of the biggest threats to marine biodiversity, causing bycatch of sensitive species, damage to the seafloor and its carbon-storing capacity, generating substantial emissions and over exploiting fish populations. In Jersey, this predominantly involves scallop dredging and, to a lesser extent, bottom trawling. These types of fishing gears are known to have a higher impact compared to static fishing gears, such as pots, and hand collection such as diver caught scallops.
Static fishing gears are fixed in the water column or on the seabed. In Jersey, these are predominantly pots, nets, hook and line and hand-diving. Lobster and Crab alone made up 70 per cent of Jersey’s fishery value in 2021 and are caught exclusively through static gear which typically have a much lower environmental impact than mobile fishing gear.
How will the JMSP impact fishermen?
The vast majority of the Island’s commercial fishing vessels – 85 per cent – as well as recreational activities such as angling, foraging and spearfishing would not face any new restrictions under the proposed plans. These activities would ultimately reap the benefits of the protection of key habitats that provide fish nursery and feeding grounds. Approximately seven local vessels operate mobile fishing gear, which is the type of fishing that is not permitted in MPAs, however these vessels will still be permitted to fish in the remaining 70 per cent of Jersey’s waters not covered by the MPAs.
…One MPA in the MSP takes a different form of protection. This is at a submerged offshore reef, called ‘Les Sauvages’, proposed to become a No-Take Zone where no form of fishing would be allowed.
Will the MPAs be protected from other damaging activities such as development?
The proposed MPAs would prohibit the use of mobile fishing gear (trawling and dredging) and other “extractive” activities. These areas would technically not be protected from other activities such as wind farm development and electrical cable laying. The JMSP has however, recommended for any wind farm developments to be located to the southwest of Jersey’s waters, away from proposed and existing MPAs.
Is Blue Marine supportive of the JMSP?
Yes. Blue Marine congratulates the Government of Jersey in taking this important, first step to protect their marine environment. Jersey’s MSP, with its proposals to protect 27 per cent of the Island’s territorial waters, will be a large step in the right direction towards protecting 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030 (’30 by 30’), an ambition of which Blue Marine are fully supportive. The JMSP provides a once in-a-generation opportunity to protect our seas while supporting sustainable livelihoods and the local economy. However, further work will be needed over the next six years to designate the proposed MPAs and increase their extent to reach 30 per cent of Jerseys seas.
Is Blue Marine happy with the recommended MPA network?
Yes. The areas recommended for protection are based on scientific evidence and cover a range of key habitats which deliver a multitude of services. The proposed protection will play a huge role in conserving habitats crucially important for feeding, breeding and nursery grounds for a diverse range of species. This would be expected to lead to healthier fish stocks, greater biodiversity and an increased ability to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
When will the MPAs be designated and how?
The Government of Jersey’s Marine Spatial Plan webpage indicates that following this consultation period, the final policy documents will be issued in March 2024. The policy documents will then be lodged, debated and voted on in the States Assembly. Once the JMSP is finalised and approved by the States Assembly, the Government of Jersey will then need to complete the MPA designation process. Blue Marine hope to see this process commence immediately after the approval of the MSP and for the MPAs to come into effect before 2025.
What has Blue Marine’s involvement been in the JMSP?
For several years, Blue Marine has been calling for the designation of further MPAs in Jersey’s waters to cover at least 30 per cent to form a marine park. This has involved a wide range of work including research and monitoring of Jersey’s marine environment.
During the JMSP consultation process, Blue Marine attended workshops and submitted the data from our research and monitoring along with many other stakeholders on the Island.
What is the next step for the JMSP?
The consultation period will last until 2 January 2024. The JMSP team will then review all feedback and make revisions accordingly. The final document will then be lodged in the States Assembly for debate. The Assembly will then decide by majority vote whether the plan will be approved. If approved, it is expected for the protection regulations to be formally adopted by the end of 2024.