Protected tuna “were caught by a French trawler”
The Jersey government has confirmed it has opened an investigation into reports of an illegal capture, which was allegedly auctioned for around £ 10,000.
Bluefin tuna are classified as “endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and are protected under Jersey’s wildlife laws. Although controlled, fishing for the species is not prohibited in France.
Jersey Fishermen’s Association president Don Thompson said it was particularly frustrating that French ships were granted free licenses to operate in island waters to “do something they are not allowed to do”.
The Jersey government declined to disclose whether the trawler was French, but added: “We are aware of reports that a commercial fishing vessel may have caught or had on board bluefin tuna in Jersey waters.” If this is true, it would constitute a violation of wildlife laws and could contravene the conditions of the license, if the fish were caught in Jersey waters.
“Officials from the Department of Infrastructure, Housing and Environment are currently investigating and therefore cannot give further details at this stage.”
The boat was reportedly seen on marine tracking software working in an area called the “Sark Box”, entering and exiting the territorial waters of Jersey and Guernsey.
Mr Thompson said records made at the Granville Auction – the fish auction – showed 1.2 tonnes of bluefin tuna had gone under the hammer at the trading port.
Speaking about the alleged incident, Mr Thompson said: “Where they were, I’m pretty sure they were targeting tuna – there aren’t many other types of fish around this time of the year. year.
“These are boats that operate on free licenses granted to them by Jersey – that’s what annoys me more than anything. We cannot target or land any of these fish.
“The licenses are granted free of charge to French boats and are issued so that they can do something that they are not authorized to do in our waters. It all seems a bit rich.
Mr. Thompson criticized a “catch and release” program that seeks to obtain an estimate of the number of species locally. He said the quota the named fishermen received was too low. He added that the fish caught and recorded by the French might actually help paint a better picture of the number of species.
Separately, French radio station France Bleu reported that two weeks ago, a man in Brittany caught a 121 kg specimen off the coast of Île de Bréhat – a cluster of islands near the town of St Brieuc which is sometimes visible from Les Minquiers.
In the report, it is said that the man spent 45 minutes rewinding the fish. He allegedly said he caught a 58 kg tuna and a 72 kg tuna the previous week.
Régis Quellec, a fishery officer in the area, said people from as far away as Spain and Japan were heading to the area to try and get their hands on the prized fish.
In the summer of 2018, two side-by-side trawlers from Granville targeting sea bream near Minquiers were surprised to catch 44 bluefin tuna weighing between 50 and 120 kg. A Jersey-based recreational fisherman landed a 102kg soon after. A few days later, Environment Minister John Young announced that a ban on targeting the species would be introduced.