‘These are our waters, we'll draw up our own fishing laws’

A NEW local fishing regime is being drawn up to counter a potential threat from the UK to claim control of Bailiwick rights.

Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, who leads on external affairs for Policy & Resources,  said that both Guernsey and Jersey were legislating on fishing rights and the UK’s attempt to interfere was unnecessary. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28956108)
Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, who leads on external affairs for Policy & Resources, said that both Guernsey and Jersey were legislating on fishing rights and the UK’s attempt to interfere was unnecessary. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28956108)

The UK Government has approved its Fisheries Bill in preparation for the end of the Brexit transition, which includes an amendment, known as a permissive extent clause, giving it a possible route to negotiate fishing rights in the Channel Islands.

UK ministers have insisted that the change would be used only as a last resort.

Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, who is the lead on external affairs for Policy & Resources, said it was standing firm on the principle that Guernsey had the power to debate and make its own laws.

‘We retain our connection with the Queen, our Duke, but we make it increasingly distinct that we are not part of the UK.

‘Because we’re small, many people still think that’s the case, and it is not the case and I will fight to the end to maintain that position.

‘Whatever happens with Brexit, we will need to bring in new legislation, and that’s been ongoing.

‘Now some of that will trump any need for the UK to legislate for us, and all the permissive extent clause does is the UK stating that they want to be able to legislate for us if we don’t do so.

‘And the fact is that Jersey and ourselves are saying that we’ve always done so, and particularly in the area of fisheries we will certainly do so, these are our waters.’

Any move from the UK to legislate for the island would have to go through the States before it is registered by the Royal Court.

Deputy Le Tocq said P&R was looking at evolving the island’s constitutional status, and enhancing its reputation, by possibly moving to the system used by the Isle of Man where its Lt-Governor has the power to sign off local legislation without it being sent to the Privy Council.

In this way the island’s link to the Crown, and all the benefits that bestows, would be protected.

‘Our constitutional status has been changing slowly over a number of centuries and perhaps more recently in terms of international identity, and when the UK joined the EU in the 1970s obviously our international status and constitutional relationship had to change.

‘It will continue to develop so it’s nothing to be frightened of, it’s just the manner in which we do that, and I’d rather not do it in a way that’s being forced by some fairly unnecessary measures, such as the permissive extent clause, but we would be doing this anyway.’

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