1872 Jersey Fisheries Survey
Fishermen at La Rocque
At their meeting during Autumn 1871 the Chamber of Commerce President, W L De Gruchy, and committee members James Ennis, Philip Le Quesne and Francis Voisin, agreed what form the survey should take. They nominated two members; Pierre Briard and Philip Le Rossignol to carry out the task. Their report was presented to the Chamber of Commerce on 19 January 1872. 
To the Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, Gentlemen: Having at your request collected information and statistics on the local fishery of this Island we have pleasure in laying before you the results of our enquiries. We have visited the different bays of the Island and have consulted with principal fishermen of each fishery station and, although their opinions differ, they all agree in saying the whole catch of fish has considerable decreased the last few years without being able to assign a reason for it. In several bays we formed the opinion that more fish could be caught if the means of fishing and shelter for their boats were provided for them. The latter we find to be a prevailing want, as in the best bay the fishermen are not able to keep their large boats afloat during autumn and winter months, for want of suitable shelter. We will, however, proceed with our report and note the information collected at the different stations.
We first of all went to Bonne Nuit. Here there are 15 to 18 boats and about 80 fishermen, many of whom were gone to the oyster fishery; all the larger boats were hauled up, one of them had been smashed as she lay at anchor in the bay. The fishery consists principally of lobsters and conger eels. We saw there Mr Remon, who was of the opinion that there was plenty of fish and many of the fishermen with proper means could increase their catch. The great drawback was the want of proper harbour for their boats. They could not beach their large ones and could not go sufficiently far in the small ones to catch much fish.
Our next visit was to Rozel. Here there are about 15 boats, each carrying two men. In summer there are about 50 men employed fishing – most of them are gone oyster fishing in the Channel, and two cutters were dredging in the north. The principle fish caught here is the lobster, also, most kinds of fish.
Mr Blampied, whom we saw at this bay, said that there was room for more boats, which if properly filled could fish at Les Ecréhous.
From there we proceeded to Bouley Bay. There are here but two boats and a few fisherman. This bay abounds with mullet and other fish and many of the town fishermen come there in the summer.
At Fliquet there are about 20 fishermen, most of whom are farmers and work at there farms in the winter. Mr Le Huquet, Constable of St Martin, and Mr E Whitley are of the opinion that the fishery in that locality has decreased. They are both agreed in their thinking that at the Ecrehous and Dirouelles, there might be more fish caught.
There are at Anne Port a couple of boats and few fishermen. Here ended the first day excursion.
St Brelade's Bay
The second day we commenced at St Brelade's Bay. In this bay there are about six large boats and 20 fishermen. Mr George Lambert told us that there were plenty of fish here, mostly mullet, whiting and lobster and conger; the last named fish was generally sold about the country. The great want we noted here was proper shelter for the boats. The harbour is nearly furnished by nature and would be completed at a very trifling cost.
At La Pulente there is but one boat. We found here three or four fishermen from town, who frequently visited this bay, and told us they considered it the best bay for fish, particularly whiting, but the sea was always very rough and dangerous.
At L'Etacq the fishery consisted of crabs and lobsters; there are here about 12 boats and 30 fishermen. Mr Le Cornu showed us how much a small breakwater was needed to shelter the boats, which were frequently broken. It would be constructed at very little cost, and if so, in the opinion of the fishermen, the catch of fish would be doubled.
We ascertained at Crabbe there were four or five boats and about ten or 12 fishermen.
On the third day we vsited La Rocque. Mr Philip Venement informed us that there were 30 boats and 60 fishermen employed during the summer lobster fishing at Les Minquiers. The catch of this shellfish lasts from May to August. After that month the boats are hauled up for the winter. A few small boats from town come fishing here in the winter.
He was of the opinion that the law on nets has not prevented the evil it sought to stop and had taken away a living from many families.
At Le Hocq, George de Rue complained of no want of fish but thought that shrimping should not be allowed at the spawning season, as for almost every shrimp caught at that time, there were thousands destroyed.
Havre des Pas
Mr Robert, of Havre des Pas, told us he thought that if the sale of sand-eels, caught in nets at sea during the summer months, was prohibited, as it has been in Guernsey for40 years, it would tend to attract more fish to the bay.
In reply to your enquires about Gorey on the oyster fishery, there are many different opinions on this all-important topic, but we believe the frequent opinion of fishermen is that the beds are not in a proper state to receive and nurture a fall of spat, if the coming season is favourable for it.
There is no doubt that they must be covered with mud, which has not been distributed for some years, and would be greatly improved by being dredged. In conclusion, we have no doubt that there is room for a great increase in the local fishery, particularly if carried on continuously, and if accompanied by a systematic catch of bait, and if harbour accommodation for the boats were provided.
There are about 400 fishermen in this Island, but at least half are either farmers or go away oyster fishing
The largest portion of the lobster caught here is exported. The number sent away this last year was 800 dozen; although this is but half the quantity sent away some ten or 15 years ago. We hear there is every likelihood of a fishing company being started and we think that, in all probability, if properly managed, it will succeed in increasing the supply of fish in our markets, the price of that article of diet having been lately almost prohibitive.
We cannot terminate without recording our sense of obligation to Mr Gallichan, of the Impots, who accompanied us, and who, on account of his intimate knowledge of the coast and the fishermen about it, greatly facilitated our task.
Hoping this report will be the means of calling the serious attention of the Chamber to this important subject.
At the Jersey Chamber of Commerce meeting held on 16 February 1872 it was agreed that the President, W L de Gruchy, should send the following letter to the Lieut-Governor, Bailiff and States Members.
- "To his Excellency the Lieut- Governor, Major General Guy; The Bailiff, John Hammond; and the Members of the States The memorial of the committee of the Chamber of Commerce Sheweth that this committee have had under their consideration the serious diminution of the local catch of fish and the consequent great increase of price. That this committee, considering it most desirable that the price and supply of fish should be such as to place that article of diet within the reach of even the poorest classes, named a sub-committee on 10 October last, to consider this subject and report thereon.
- "That this sub-committee visited all parts of the sea coast and careful examined all persons whose opinions or experience they thought likely to assist them and, on 19 January last, presented a report to this committee, a copy of which is annexed to this memorial.
- "That it results from the above-mentioned report that the principal impediment to the fishery being continuously and systematically carried on, is to be found in utter absence of necessary shelter for fishing boats of an adequate size, and that in consequence, no fishery of any importance can be undertaken in the winter months.
- "This committee would therefore suggest to the favourable consideration of the States whether it would not be desirable to provide shelter for fishermen's boats; more especially at St Brelade, L’Etacq and La Rocque, in addition to that already voted for Bonne Nuit.
- "That this committee would further recommend in accordance with opinions elicited by the above mentioned sub-committee, that in order to prevent the excessive taking of green sand-eels by act and consequent destruction of bait, the sale of the said green sand-eels in the market or elsewhere should be prohibited, a prohibition which has for 40 years past existed in Guernsey.
- "That the sub-committee were informed that the Law prohibiting the use of drag nets in the open bays, more especially in the bay of Grouville, is constantly violated. This committee would therefore pray the States to consider the advisability of its repeal, unless more stringent measures can be adopted to enforce execution.
- "That this committee would further humbly suggest whether it would not be advisable to prohibit shrimping during the spawning season, as in the opinion of competent persons, the destruction of spawn for this practice is excessive.
- "That the sub-committee discovered that great discontent exists with regard to the provisions of the Law relating to the size of the meshes of nets. The committee would therefore pray the States to consider whether it would be advantageous to re-examine the provisions of the Law as regards this subject.
- "And your petitioners will ever pray.
- "We remain your obedient servant. "
Notes and references
- ↑ The transcript of the original report, provided to us, contained many errors, probably not in the original. We have made minor edits, largely of spelling and punctuation, where we believe that it helps the readability of the text