Creating the Jersey Marine Park would show the world we are a responsible, eco-friendly jurisdiction.

We have a great opportunity to safeguard our island’s marine environment for the future if we pursue the vision for a Jersey Marine Park. 

We could create a statutory marine park of 900 square kilometres in Jersey’s territorial waters, protecting 30 per cent of our maritime environment at a stroke.  A marine park, like a national park on land, would bring important social, environmental and economic benefits.

As a first step, it would safeguard our sea life and coastline for islanders and visitors to enjoy, strengthening Jersey’s eco-tourism destination credentials. A marine park designation would also create the conditions for a sustainable, productive and potentially more profitable fishing industry into the future: Bringing an end to fishing methods that damage the seabed and curtailing over-fishing will enable fish stocks to recover and thrive so that the traditional fishing industry can continue for the long term.  

A marine park is not only wholly compatible with economic development but also essential for a strong and modern future economy.

The vision to designate marine protected areas (MPAs) around our coast and reefs would create the first statutory marine park in the British Isles, which is especially relevant to an island community. 

Living in Jersey, we are continually in sight of the sea and the awareness of it forms part of our identity and way of life. Islanders are more aware of the sea than many other people we meet. We advise visitors to show it respect because we know just how much Jersey is transformed with the rise and fall of each tide.

This connection with the sea was heightened by the pandemic, which meant local families turned to the coast and beaches more and took up sea swimming, paddle-boarding, coasteering and other activities based in the sea. At the same time, there has been an increasingly strong international narrative about marine conservation.

We are slightly set apart, falling within a unique space between France and the UK, which means always having to confront each global crisis in our own way. Jersey has already declared a climate change emergency and we know the world’s oceans are under threat from pollution and plastic.

Now is the time to take clear action to tackle these challenges and safeguard our seas.

Beneath the waves, Jersey is bursting with life and has some of the richest coastal waters in Europe. We need to protect what we have, for the benefit of our fishing communities, ourselves and our visitors, and to be an exemplar to others.

We must deal with the climate emergency in every way we can, and that goes far beyond COP 26. One of the ways we can save carbon is to protect the many carbon stores in the sea around our islands: thousands of years old maerl beds; seagrass beds which are actually expanding – unlike those elsewhere in Europe; and the many other seaweeds of which we have the greatest diversity in the British Isles.  All of these form nurseries and vital habitat for fish and support larger species of fauna, such as dolphins and porpoises, as well as capturing carbon.

Globally scientists agree that to address these interlinked crises in the oceans and the atmosphere a credible and necessary interim goal would be to achieve a minimum protection of 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030. Already the UK and 58 other countries in the Global Ocean Alliance have promised to protect 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030.  So what is Jersey’s contribution going to be?

There are currently three MPAs in Jersey waters, covering an area of around 150 sq km, protected under sea fisheries law at:

  • Les Minquiers;
  • Les Écréhous; and
  • Inshore waters (clockwise between St Brelade’s Bay and Gronez).

These areas were identified primarily in order to protect key habitats of seagrass, maerl and kelp.

We sit in the ecologically rich Bay of Granville but we do not sit in isolation. France has already recognized the importance of the area by creating at least seven marine protected areas around us – with more under consideration. A Jersey marine park would complement this network and fill important gaps.

The creation of a new marine park would send a message to the world about how Jersey sees itself as a responsible, accessible, eco-friendly jurisdiction and tourist destination. It would give a clear signal of how we want to live and develop in future, showing we intend to protect our local marine resources and marine environment and play our part in nurturing the world’s seas and oceans. It would be a way of reaffirming our values and our identity, safeguarding the future of the unique and very precious waters that envelop our island. 

 

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