New restrictions came into effect at Les Ecréhous this month after areas of the site were given special protection status to safeguard the breeding activities and nesting of wild birds.
Four areas of Les Ecréhous have been designated as Areas of Special Protection under Jersey’s Wildlife Law to reduce the risk to birds from the “ever-increasing” numbers of visitors.
The zones have been introduced to protect the activities and sites of wild birds including European shags, great cormorants, common terns, roseate terns and oystercatchers.
Speaking about the new protection, Deputy John Young, Minister for the Environment, said the zones would help to ‘minimise any disturbance and encourage successful nesting’.
‘Many of Jersey’s nesting seabirds visit us from distant shores, and it is our responsibility to ensure they are provided the best protection possible whilst they are with us,’ he said.
‘Les Ecréhous offer a unique home to the largest colony of common terns in the Channel Islands, but evidence has shown that at times their nesting areas need protection.’
Restrictions during the breeding season
Each protected location is encompassed by a 150 metre boundary line. Unauthorised people are prohibited from entering the area during the breeding season and those who commit an offence are liable to a fine of up to £10,000.
For the area on Maîtr’Île, the breeding period runs from 24 January to 31 August, and for La Blanche Île, La Grande Brecque and La Marmotière, the restrictions are in place for the period between 1 April and 31 August.
Certain activities are also prohibited within the zones, including bringing a dog ashore, playing loud music and piloting a boat at a speed of five knots or more.
Ian Mitchell, chairman of the Ecréhous Residents Association, said: ‘It is sometimes a difficult balance to preserve the natural environment while allowing humans, both residents and visitors, to continue to enjoy the very special place that is the Ecréhous, as they have done for hundreds of years.
‘We believe the order achieves that balance, but will be maintaining the very constructive dialogue we have with the department to monitor progress.
‘There is no denying that the ever-increasing number of visitors does present challenges to the unique site.’
The following activities are banned during the breeding periods:
- entering a breeding area, unless as an authorised person
- operating a vessel at a speed of 5 knots or more, except in the case of an emergency
- using or operating an unmanned aerial vehicle, unless authorised by the Minister
- using or operating a laser
- discharging a firearm or ceremonial gun
- lighting a firework
- lighting a bonfire (except for a barbecue)
- bringing a dog onto land, unless authorised in writing by the Minister
- playing a recording of bird song, bird calls or other sounds which may attract, alarm or otherwise disturb a protected wild bird
- playing music at a volume which may alarm or otherwise disturb a protected wild bird
Aerial images showing the designated areas are available on the Jersey Law website: https://www.jerseylaw.je/laws/enacted/Pages/RO-047-2022.aspx