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Rules to protect commercial fishermen from unlicenced competition

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Wednesday 01 February 2023

Unlicenced, quasi-commercial, fishermen will now be prevented from circumventing fishing rules following changes to regulations.

Licenced commercial fishermen adhere to controls such as those relating to undersized fish and other species.  These rules are important for ensuring the ongoing viability and sustainability of the local industry, and in applying these rules it is important for fair competition that all commercial operators observe them.

During the height of COVID-19 restrictions, it was raised as a particular concern by members of the local fishing fleet that there were unlicenced, unregulated fishermen selling their catch for financial gain while claiming to be only fishing for pleasure.  

The change to the Fishing Ordinance, brought in by the Committee for Economic Development with the support of the States Assembly, means all 'first sale' fish (fish being offered for sale for the first time after being landed) are subject to the same controls.  This is in line with UK legislation.  It will allow Sea Fisheries to ensure that fish being offered for sale has come from a regulated and sustainable source.

It is important to highlight that this will not restrict recreational fishing or catching fish which you or your family intends to eat.  It is intended only to address cases where fishermen claim to be solely recreational but selling their fish commercially, undermining legitimate and licenced commercial fishing fleet members.

Senior Sea Fisheries Officer Michael Phillips said

"We really want the local fishing community to be aware of these new rules as they come into effect.  It's important local fishermen who sell their fish know what is expected, compete fairly and work with us to preserve fish stocks and the local marine environment.  We also want people who are genuine recreational fishermen to be reassured that these rules are not aimed at them and won't mean changes for them." 

Deputy Neil Inder, President of the Committee for Economic Development said

"The pandemic years were challenging for many sectors, including our fishing fleet which has special place in our heritage and culture.  It's a tough sector even in a 'normal' year and our fishermen work incredibly hard, often working anti-social hours in challenging conditions.  For that reason it's particularly important to me that we support our fishing fleet as much as we can, and tackling this area of unfair competition is one way to do that."

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