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Letters To The Editor
I am glad to commend the Jersey Law Review to everyone interested in Jersey law. It will have special interest and value for all those engaged in administering, practising or studying the law of Jersey.
The new journal will give an opportunity for discussion of the history of Jersey law, its development in the field of theory and its practical application. Such discussion is essential if the law is to be a living and growing force. It will be particularly important in Jersey; first, because at present there is such lack of text books and academic writing, and secondly, because unique problems arise from the mingling in Jersey of the streams of Norman law, English law and systems from elsewhere.
I look forward to reading the Jersey Law Review and wish it all success.
SIR GODFRAY LE QUESNE, QC,
Temple, London EC4Y 7HH
I am very glad to be able to commend this exciting new publication and congratulate all who had a hand in its inception. I wish it extremely well in the future as I know that it will fill a gap in our present writings on our law and legal system. Each year, if not month, sees great changes in our basic laws. Searching the reports can take time and even then judgments are not always the best places to discuss legal philosophy and jurisprudence. The first edition promises well and I look forward to the succeeding numbers.
SIR PETER CRILL, KBE,
Beechfield House, Beechfield Lane, Trinity, Jersey, JE3 5JU
LES ECRÉHOUS, JERSEY by WARWICK RODWELL, with sections by Christopher Blackstone, published by Société Jersiaise, 1996.
There is no doubt that, compared with his colleagues from other countries in Europe, the Jersey professional fisherman has a raw deal. Fishermen from France can fish to within 3 miles of the low water mark on Jersey’s coast whereas the general rule throughout Europe is that national fishermen have the exclusive right of fishery within 6 miles of their coast line. Not surprisingly, this is a source of some grievance for the Jersey fishermen. How has it come about? Furthermore how is it that French fishermen can fish anywhere in the Ecréhous and the Minquiers despite the fact that these islands belong to Jersey?
Anyone wishing to know the answers to these questions would do well to read the account given by Christopher Blackstone in chapter 8 of "Les Ecréhous". Mr. Blackstone has clearly taken considerable trouble to research a complex subject and he explains it simply and clearly.
As he rightly points out it started with the Fisheries Convention of 1839 between the United Kingdom and France. This dealt mainly with the oyster fishery (which no longer exists) and, in that connection, conferred equal rights of access on French and Jersey fishermen in the area between a line, known as the A-K line, on the French coast and a line drawn 3 miles from the low water mark on the Jersey coast. This therefore included the Ecréhous. What was not clear and what was in dispute until 1951 was whether there was a similar right of access for general fishing. France said that there was, whereas the United Kingdom supported Jersey in saying that there was not. Mr. Blackstone has unearthed some interesting correspondence which took place in the 19th century on this topic. As he rightly points out the dispute was concluded by the Agreement made in 1951 between the United Kingdom and France. This confirmed that there was a general right of fishery for both French and Jersey fishermen in the area covered by the 1839 Convention. This Agreement of course took place in the context of a legal dispute as to who owned the Ecréhous and the Minquiers and Mr. Blackstone gives a very readable explanation of the decision of the International Court of Justice which held in 1953 that sovereignty over the Ecréhous and the Minquiers rested with the United Kingdom. Although sovereignty was therefore established in 1953 Mr. Blackstone goes on to give a graphic account of the "invasion" of the Ecréhous in 1996 when a number of Frenchmen wished to turn back the clock and raise once again the question of the ownership of the islands.
As Mr. Blackstone makes clear the decision of the International Court of Justice did not affect fishing rights and these have remained the subject of continued negotiation between the parties. It would perhaps have been interesting for the reader to learn if more was known as to why the 1951 Agreement (which appears so adverse to Jersey’s interests) was reached and why the fishing arrangements in the area were specifically excluded from the London Convention of 1964 which conferred a general exclusive right of fishery of 6 miles from the coast.
But these are minor points. Mr. Blackstone is to be heartily congratulated on a very valuable contribution to an understanding of the present position of the Ecréhous and the fisheries in the area and the book is strongly recommended to anyone who wishes to know more of the topic.
M. C. St. J. Birt QC., Attorney General for Jersey.