An effort to give the committee the option to bring in exemptions for low-level sales failed when an amendment proposed by Deputy Peter Roffey and seconded by Deputy Gavin St Pier was defeated.
As debate on the amendment drew to a close, Deputy Steve Falla said he was not comfortable with the suggestion that it was all right to break the law ‘a little bit’. This followed a suggestion earlier that small amounts of fish sold privately would not be an issue even though it was, technically, still illegal. He reiterated a point made in yesterday’s debate that the amendment did not direct the committee to do something.
Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez said it made ‘not a jot of difference’ to the committee’s view and nothing would change unless it chose to implement it.
Economic Development president Neil Inder said because the amendment had no immediate power it was pointless placing it, but Deputy Roffey said that even if it was not used, it would be a tool in the committee’s box which could be in future. He likened it to providing protection for retailers against hedge veg stalls turning into mini commercial ventures by selling produce not grown in the owner’s garden or greenhouse.
Former hotelier Deputy Simon Vermeulen said that the situation was tantamount to someone without a licence selling alcohol next door to his old establishment. The amendment was lost by 24 votes to 16.
During general debate, Deputy David De Lisle was critical of the lack of information in the policy letter, saying it was thin on costs, and the impact of the legislation.
Deputy Gavin St Pier said the problem seemed to be one of enforcement and enforceability, but was it really necessary at all in terms of the law? He had it confirmed by HM Procureur that if someone made an arrangement to buy fish from an unauthorised fisherman, that buyer could potentially be charged with an offence under the existing law. But it was pointed out later by Deputy Peter Ferbrache that this was not the fishing law but a separate one.
The legal change had been described as a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq said that sometimes a sledgehammer was needed. While this was not about a lot of people breaking the law, it was about people who were doing so.
The proposals were passed by 35 votes to four, with one abstention.