Jersey's fishing industry 'in crisis'

Jersey's fishermen are warning their industry could be decimated without urgent extra support from the government.

While other countries have set up specific schemes to help trawlermen, those working in Jersey only have access to general business schemes.

But those working the water say it is simply not enough.

Jersey's fishing fleet is a fleet that's always stood on it's own feet. We've never gone to government asking for the same support that our French competitors or the UK get. But on this occasion it's absolutely clear that if there's not government support to keep the industry intact, so that we can restart after the crisis, that there will be no industry left. It's disappointing that for the first time ever we've gone to the government to ask for some assistance and it's been turned down.

Don Thompson, Head of Jersey's Fisherman's Association

The government says that workers in the fishing industry are eligible to Phase 1 & 2 of the coronavirus Co-Funded Payroll Scheme, which outlines that workers can claim up to £1,600 a month.

Officers are in liaison with the fishing industry and will assess how their requirements fit within existing support schemes or whether new forms of support are required. If a revised plan is made, ministers will be able to review the proposals. In the meantime, the Government encourages fishermen to claim for support under the mechanisms that are currently available.

Government of Jersey

The Head of the Jersey Fishermen's Association told ITV News that this government support is not nearly enough to keep all their boats afloat.

Don Thompson says that of the 60% of the fleet he has spoken to, only 10 fishermen have managed to tap into the state aid.

He is now asking for a specific rescue package targeted towards the fishing industry, similar to that in the UK, whereby vessels larger than 12 metres are eligible for grants of up to £10,000 for April and May.

Mr Thompson warns that without further support, many fishermen will leave the industry.