‘Government to blame for fishing debacle’ THE UK Government is to blame for the fiasco over licensing of fishing vessels in Bailiwick of Guernsey waters.
The long-running political dispute between fishing authorities in Guernsey and Jersey over licensing rights should never have materialised, Guernsey Fishermen’s Association president Peter Munro said last night.
He was speaking hours after Court of Appeal judges handed down a judgement in the States’ favour, overturning a previous decision that it had acted unlawfully.
The decision means that it is an offence for any British vessel to fish within the Bailiwick 12-mile area without a licence issued by the Commerce and Employment Department.
‘We are glad it has finally come to a conclusion but it should never have got this far,’ said Mr Munro.
‘The UK Government is to blame for not sorting out this fiasco in the first place.
‘We fully understand the feelings of the majority of the Jersey fishermen. But had the Jersey authorities been more restrictive in the way their vessels applied for licences and allowed only legitimate vessels with track records to apply to fish up here, it would never have come to this.
‘In our eyes, some Jersey boats should have been given access originally to Guernsey waters.
‘I have spoken to several Jersey fishermen who have fished up here for decades. Unfortunately for them, the way the Jersey authorities pursued their licensing agreement left those boats unable to work outside the Jersey 12-mile limit or in UK waters.’
The association will now sit down with sea fisheries officers to see what exactly the decision entails.
Commerce and Employment board member Duncan Staples said: ‘We are extremely satisfied. It’s a good day for those with licences and all licence holders who fish in the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
‘The judgement is good news for everyone who wishes to see our fisheries managed in a sustainable manner.’
He awaited a further appeal but said it was still hoped to reach an arrangement with Jersey on fisheries management.
The matter may go to the UK Privy Council within the next six weeks. Advocate Gordon Dawes, representing the Jersey and UK fishermen, successfully applied for leave to appeal.
Deputy Lyndon Trott, who took the original policy letter to the States, said: ‘I’m very, very pleased indeed. I never expected the outcome to be any different.’
Any unlicensed vessels that have placed fishing gear within the Guernsey 12-mile area must remove it and are advised to contact Sea Fisheries on 234567.
by Nick Mollet