Tuesday 31 January 2023
Following extensive discussions with the EU and France, as well as liaison with the French Government and French regional fishing authorities, on 1 February 2023 the Bailiwick of Guernsey will implement in full the fisheries provisions dealing with specific access arrangements for Bailiwick waters in Article 502 of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement ('the TCA').
The new licence conditions set out the type and amount of fishing that can be carried out by EU vessels which hold fishing licences for Bailiwick waters (referred to as "extent and nature" conditions). This will bring into effect controls on EU fishing activity to further implement the TCA provision, maintaining effort at the level that reflects the activity in the years just before the UK left the EU. This arrangement will allow a stable and predictable fishing relationship with regional partners, securing trade and ongoing cooperation for the years to come.
Fishing licences for 41 EU vessels, registered in either Normandy or Brittany, have already been issued under the TCA, and these took effect on 1 February 2022. At that time the licences set out which vessels could access certain areas of Bailiwick waters, but did not stipulate the type and amount of fishing activity that could be undertaken by those vessels, as long as the activity complied with any limitations placed on vessels by their national or regional competent authorities.
Under the "extent and nature" conditions which will apply from tomorrow (1 February 2023), licensed EU vessels will be able to fish using the same gear types for the same overall level of effort as has been evidenced from past fishing activity during the track record period. Updated licences, including these new conditions, are being issued to licensed EU vessels today. These licences will be valid for two years, from 1 February 2023 until 31 January 2025, following which they will be automatically renewed.
For the majority of licensed EU vessels, this will mean fishing under relevant pools of days at sea, which match the gear(s) on their licences, within the zone(s) they have access to (as per their licence) and subject to the authorised species for each zone. For example, the majority of the licensed vessels are authorised to fish with trawls and will have access to a collective pool of days at sea in each 12-month period (from 1 February-31 January). There are also smaller pools for Scallop dredging, long lining and tangle-netting which relevant licensed vessels will have access to. Days at sea utilisation will be monitored by the Guernsey Sea Fisheries team. Licensed EU vessels must also continue to abide by any conditions in their regional or national licences, which may include landing and quota limits. When all the days at sea within a relevant pool have been used up, the relevant fishery will be closed to the licensed EU vessels until the start of the next period.
For small static gear vessels (under 12 metres in length overall), for which it was not possible to establish a complete track record of days at sea (as they were not equipped with VMS trackers during the reference period), a different approach is being taken. They will fish under a maximum allowance of fishing gear that they can set at any one time in the relevant Bailiwick waters. In practice, this means one small potting vessel fishing against a set number of pots allowance, and one small long liner fishing against a set number of hooks allowance.
A replacement vessel policy for licensed EU vessels has also been confirmed. This sets out the criteria that determine which vessels are eligible to take over a licence which is no longer needed by a qualifying vessel. Replacement vessel licences will be granted where vessels are the same as, or not significantly dissimilar to, the original vessel they are replacing. Consequently, some additional licences, for which replacement vessels were waiting to be confirmed, have now also been issued in accordance with this replacement vessel policy. This takes the total number of EU vessels with a licence to access Bailiwick waters under the TCA to 44. The replacement vessel licences will take effect from 1 February and will be subject to the same "extent and nature" conditions as all other licensed EU vessels.
As a matter of transparency and to support the good relationships the Bailiwick has with its closest neighbours, Guernsey Sea Fisheries will continue engaging regularly with the relevant authorities in Normandy and Brittany, and their fishermen, in order to ensure the smooth implementation of the new regime.
Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, external relations lead for the Policy & Resources Committee said:
"Over the past two years a significant amount of work has been carried out to fully implement the Bailiwick's obligations under the TCA. The "extent and nature" and replacement vessel policies which take effect on 1 February represent the final step in that process of implementation. We greatly value our good relationships with Normandy, Brittany, La Manche and Ille et Vilaine and I hope that today's announcement provides welcome certainty and stability in this new era of the TCA. We look forward to continuing to work with our regional partners on other important strategic projects of mutual interest, including greater cooperation in the supply of electricity through new submarine cables and delimitation of our maritime boundaries."
Deputy Neil Inder, President of the Committee for Economic Development said:
"It is important that we maintain a stable and predictable economic relationship for the fishing industry in and around the Bailiwick. The work that has been carried out in developing the new "extent and nature" and replacement vessel policies will provide certainty for everyone as to how the new regime will operate, and I would like to express my thanks to officers who have worked hard to reach this conclusion. We will continue to work closely with our neighbours as these new policies come into force and we now look forward to working with our neighbours on resuming access to the port of Diélette, so that Bailiwick fishermen can once again land their catch safely and conveniently there, at the earliest possible opportunity."