Fishing could be banned in Jersey's Portelet Bay

Credit: ITV Channel

An experimental plan to restore declining marine life around Jersey could see fishing banned at Portelet Bay.

If given the green light, the Bay would become Jersey’s first ‘no-take zone’ which would make all forms of fishing illegal.

“A no take zone is essentially what it describes,” said Marine Biologist Gareth Jeffreys.

“Once put into regulation it becomes illegal to extract any living fauna from the bay from any means, commercial, recreational fishing, low water fishing, even catch and release. So it’s basically an undisturbed area so you can really establish a baseline of what an area would be without human impact.”

The bay is currently used mainly for lobster potting. But the practice has seen numbers decline and it is hoped the ban would see the population recover.

Kevin McIlwee from Jersey Marine Conservation said: “The bay is really important for a diversity of seaweeds and a very important lobster population.

“We know what there is and what is happening while potting is going on. What we don’t know right now is what would happen if we did stop those activities going on so we want to look at that and possibly help that population recover.”

The zone would cover just over a quarter of a square kilometre from the shoreline and the fauna will be monitored closely for the next five years. If the project is successful, it could be extended to more bays round the island.

Jersey’s Assistant Environment Minister, Deputy Gregory Guida said: “We are going to study it very closely, see what the difference is and whether there’s an improvement. One of the side effects is that it will probably improve fishing just outside of the zone.

"It becomes like a nursery, many things will grow in there, spill out and actually bring a better catch. So if we can prove that then we will close other zones to improve fishing and the ecosystem.”

The idea will be debated in the assembly in the coming weeks, and if given the go ahead, could see this fraction of Jersey's waters restored.