Who owns the beaches and what laws apply?
The ownership of Jersey’s foreshore and seabed was transferred from the Crown to the public of Jersey in 2015. The Island’s foreshore and seabed includes all of Jersey’s beaches and the seabed beneath its territorial waters.
What can and cannot be done on beaches and slipways is controlled by a number of laws including:
- The Policing of Beaches (Jersey) Regulations 1959, as amended.
- Sea Beaches (Removal of sand and stone) (Jersey) Law 1963
- Various fishing regulations covering the inter-tidal zone
- Licensing of sea-craft and speed restrictions regulations.
Who polices the beaches?
Depending on the regulation concerned, various States departments or the Constables of the parishes may police any infraction.
- Under the Policing of Beaches (Jersey) Regulations a police officer or authorised person appointed by the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport & Culture (carrying an identity card) may exercise authority in relations to the Regulations.
- Under the various fishing related regulations, authorised employees of the Environment Department monitor and action the regulations under the Sea Fisheries Officer.
- Removal of sand, stone, gravel etc. is not allowed unless licensed by the Minister for Environment, so any unauthorised removal should be reported to officers at the Environment Department.
- Ports of Jersey police the registration of boats and other craft and monitor speeding and safety at the water’s edge.
There is nothing to stop the public removing seaweed (vraic) from the beach in any quantity and you are allowed under the law to take a vehicle onto the beach for this purpose. The Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Department operate a scheme to collect any build-up of seaweed from beaches, which it then offers to agriculturalists as fertiliser. The Department clear the build-up of seaweed from bathing beaches, where the smell may be causing a nuisance.
What can’t a person do on the beach?
The Law lists the following prohibited acts:
- behave or dress in a manner reasonably likely to offend public decency
- leave litter or mess
- deface, damage or destroy public property, e.g. seats, fences, buildings
- cause annoyance to any other person
- cause obstruction to free passage
- inconvenience any other person by offering goods or services
- ride horses or let dogs off the leash outside certain times
- leave dog faeces
- place fishing lines above the low water mark at certain times
What can’t a person do without permission?
You must get written permission from the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport & Culture if you want to:
- Drive on the beach, unless collecting vraic, sand, shingle, fishing boats or fishing gear
- Park on the beach
- Park on any slipway, other than where notices allow it
- Sell things or offer things to rent on any beach
- Put up any display or sign
- Hold a meeting where music, speech or images are used
People wishing to hold organised beach parties or barbeques, particularly if music or bonfires are involved, should contact Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture in the first instance to get permission and to make sure no problems occur. If the occasion involves sales or payment, it could be seen as trading and the permission of the Economic Development, Tourism, Sport & Culture would also be necessary. Parking can often become a problem with large scale gatherings on the beach, so it is wise to notify the honorary police who may be able to help.
A licence from the Environment Department is needed for the removal of sand, stone, gravel, shingle, clay or loam from the beach or the removal of stone from the foreshore or stony outcrops.
Horse riding and dog exercising
- Horses or ponies must not be ridden from 10.30am to 6pm between 1 May and 30 September.
- Dogs must be on a lead on the beach from 10.30am to 6pm between 1 May and 30 September (Police and Customs dogs are excepted).
- Dogs must not be allowed to ‘rush at, worry or otherwise interfere with the safety, comfort or convenience of any other person on the beach’.
- Dog faeces must be cleared up straight away by the person in charge of a dog which fouls.
The law requires that people do not act ‘in a manner reasonably likely to offend public decency’. In Jersey, a woman’s toplessness would not be considered offensive unless there was a specific complaint made. Complete nudity would probably be considered offensive if the person was beyond the age of puberty, and in full view of members of the public. There are no recognised nudist beaches in Jersey.
The penalty for breaching the regulations in the laws is normally a fine in court not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale, currently £500. Fines may be levied by a Constable or Centenier, normally following a Parish Hall Enquiry in the parish where the offence took place, in which case the fine cannot be more than £100.
Use of metal detectors on beaches
No permission is needed beforehand but anything found which has a value should be reported to the authorities.