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Bailiwick of Guernsey

Guernsey and the other Channel Islands [the States of Guernsey, aka "the States"] represent the last remnants of the medieval Dukedom of Normandy, which held sway in both France and England. The islands were the only British soil occupied by German troops in World War II. Guernsey is a British crown dependency but is not part of the UK. However, the UK Government is constitutionally responsible for its defense and international representation. The Channel Islands are not part of the European Union, but benefit from a Customs Union and other individually negotiated agreements.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is situated in the English Channel, thirty miles west of France’s Normandy coast, and is well positioned to harness the power of the sea. Potential exists to generate both tidal and wave energy; the area has some of the strongest tidal currents in the world and receives powerful waves from the Atlantic Ocean. The Channel Islands are very close to Continental Europe, with both Guernsey and Jersey having a direct submarine cable link via France to the European Electricity Grid.

The northernmost, lying due west of Cape La Hague, and separated therefrom by the narrow Race of Alderney, includes that island, Burhou and Ortach, and numerous other islets west of it, and west again the notorious Casquets, and angry group of jagged rocks, on the largest of which is a powerful lighthouse. Doubtful tradition places here the wreck of the " White Ship," in which William, son of Henry I., perished in 1120; in 1744 the "Victory," a British man-of-war, struck on one of the rocks, and among calamities of modern times the wreck of the" Stella," a passenger vessel, in 1899, may be recalled. The second division of islands is also the most westerly, it includes Guernsey with a few islets to the west, and to the cast, Sark, Hrrm, Jethou (inhabited islands) and others. The strait between Guernsey and Hcrm is called Little Russel, and that between Herm and Sark Great Russel. Sark is famous for its splendid cliffs and caves, while Herm possesses the remarkable phenomenon of a shell-beach, or shore, half-a-mile in length, formed wholly of small shells, which accumulate in a tidal eddy formed at the north of the island.

Bearing in mind these few observations, it will not be surprising that Guernsey, the outlying island, should now present a bare mass of the toughest syenite, with a coast affording the grandest and boldest scenery; while Jersey, although a much larger tract of land, more within the gulf, is softer and rounder, with larger and tamer bays, and a less severe style of beauty. Sark, somewhat the loftiest of the islands, is also the most weather-worn, and is being gradually torn to shreds. Alderney is a rounded mass: the Casquets are jagged pinnacles. The Chaussey islands are like the debris of a worn-out series of quarries. Each group has its own characteristic, and each is a resisting centre, on which the waves have long beaten, but still have only partially done their work.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey benefits from an unusual marine environment. The Bailiwick is located on the convergence of Boreal (cold temperate) and Lusitanian (warm temperate) marine biogeographical regions of the sea. In addition, the strong tidal currents and varying coastal and sea bed topography means that a multitude of species-rich habitat types exist. Key species are eelgrass, Pink sea fan, and the green ormer (Abalone).

The main pelagic species present around the Channel Islands are sea bass, black bream, pollack, sandeel and mackerel. Demersal species (those species which live on or near the bottom of the sea) include brill, ray, dogfish, tope and conger. Basking sharks around Guernsey are strictly protected by fisheries’ regulations. Although Guernsey itself is not recorded as one of the main hotspots for Basking shark activity, the entrance to the Casquets’(North of Alderney) traffic separation scheme in the English Channel is known as an area of high basking shark activity.

Despite its restricted land mass, the Bailiwick of Guernsey is host to a wide variety of birdlife. With its variety of habitats, around 60 species breed in a typical year and the full list of recorded breeding birds is around 100 species. Coastline habitats, in particular cliffs and small islets, are well represented and provide widespread opportunities for seabirds to breed. Local waters provide feeding areas for both breeding and non-breeding seabirds, with each species having unique foraging requirements.

Defense is the responsibility of the UK. The monarchy is hereditary; lieutenant governor and bailiff appointed by the monarch; chief minister indirectly elected by States of Deliberation. The chief minister is the president of the Policy and Resources Committee and is the de facto head of government; The Policy and Resources Committee, elected by the States of Deliberation, functions as the executive; the five members all have equal voting rights.

The unicameral States of Deliberation (40 seats; 38 People's Deputies and 2 representatives of the States of Alderney; members directly elected by majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - non-voting members include the bailiff (presiding officer), attorney-general, and solicitor-general.

Guernsey Court of Appeal (consists of the Bailiff of Guernsey, who is the ex-officio president of the Guernsey Court of Appeal, and at least 12 judges); Royal Court (organized into 3 divisions - Full Court sits with 1 judge and 7 to 12 jurats acting as judges of fact, Ordinary Court sits with 1 judge and normally 3 jurats, and Matrimonial Causes Division sits with a 1 judge and 4 jurats). Appeals beyond Guernsey courts are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London). judge selection and term of office: Royal Court Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff, and Court of Appeal justices appointed by the British Crown and hold office at Her Majesty's pleasure; jurats elected by the States of Election, a body chaired by the Bailiff and a number of jurats.

Guernsey has a free trade agreement with the EU, contributing to a GDP of nearly £3,000,000,000. Around 40% of that annual sum is generated via the presence of international financial services, attracted to the island by its reputation as an offshore tax haven. Financial services account for about 40% of employment and about 55% of total income in this tiny, prosperous Channel Island economy. Tourism, manufacturing, and horticulture, mainly tomatoes and cut flowers, have been declining. Financial services, construction, retail, and the public sector have been growing. Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a popular tax haven. In October 2014, Guernsey signed an OECD agreement to automatically exchange some financial account information to limit tax avoidance and evasion.

Commercial fishing is an important industry to Guernsey and Sark, generating approximately £3.5M worth of first-sale landings within Guernsey ports each year. Key species of commercial importance include lobster, Edible crab, Spider crab, Scallop, European seabass, pollack, ray, brill, turbot, sole, Red mullet, Black bream and sandeels. The Bailiwick commercial fishing fleet comprises 175 vessels and is dominated by vessels of 10m or under in length.

The coastal waters around Guernsey are used by a multitude of vessels ranging from large, cross-channel ferries through to small pleasure crafts. To the north of the Channel Islands lies Le Casquets’ Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), which assists large ocean-going vessels to navigate the shipping lanes of the southern English Channel. In addition to the TSS, there are a number of other controls in place to assist maritime safety. These include the Channel Islands Inshore Traffic Zone (ITZ), which has been established to prohibit vessels of over 20m in length from transiting through the ITZ unless they are bound for ports within the ITZ.

Guernsey has a thriving tourist industry which underpins much of its economy. The island attracts in the region of 186,000 visitors a year. Many of these visitors take day trips to Herm and Sark. Holiday-makers take advantage of the large numbers of local hotels and, according to surveys undertaken by the States of Guernsey, account for approximately one third of the total traffic through Guernsey Airport. Visitors also increase the custom of local restaurants and retail establishments. In addition, cruise ships bring approximately 55,000 tourists to Guernsey each year. Recreational sailors are the final major contributor to the island’s tourism industry.

Approximately 20,000 people stop in the island, either overnight or for longer periods of time, again contributing to the hospitality and retail industries. Visitors are attracted to the Bailiwick of Guernsey for many reasons, but primarily to enjoy the natural and man-made beauty of the islands on the numerous footpaths and beaches.

As recently as the end of the 19th Century, the language spoken in ordinary life by the inhabitants of the islands is in great measure the same as the Old Norman French, though modern French was used in the law courts, and English was taught in all the parochial schools, and was familiar to a gradually increasing proportion of the population, especially in Jersey and Alderney. The several islands each had its own dialect, differing from that of the others at once in vocabulary and idiom; and a very marked difference is observablebetween the pronunciation in the north and the south of Guernsey. It had even been asserted that every parish in that island had some recognizable peculiarity of speech, but if this was the case, it was probably only in the same way in which it could be asserted of neighboring parishes throughout the country.

The bailiwick of Guernsey consists of eight islands and islets; viz. Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Lihou, Brechou, or Isle des Marchands, near Sark, and Burhou, all inhabited with the exception of the last. Castle Cornet and the Casket rocks are also peopled. By the last census, taken in 1851, the population of the bailiwick was 33,646 souls; viz. Guernsey, 29,732 souls,” or 1,238 per square mile 3; Alderney, 3,333 souls; and Sark 581 souls.

In 2008 Guernsey was home to a population of around 65,726 people. A census was carried out in 2001, and it was on this that some figures continue to be based, as the States cancelled the 2011 census. It is widely accepted that Portuguese, Latvian and Polish are the island's three main immigrant groups, however numbers are hard to come by.

The age distribution within the Island’s community is changing. In order to maintain prosperity and a level of economic activity that generates job opportunities and other economic benefits, including contributing to the cost of the provision of public services, the Island’s population needs to include a sufficient proportion of people generating economic benefits. This is particularly relevant to Guernsey at this time in its history with a demographic shift towards a population in the foreseeable future where an unprecedented number of elderly people beyond working age will be required to be supported, both physically and financially, by those who are economically active.

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Page last modified: 28-06-2017 18:31:26 ZULU