French fisherman warns of 'never-ending war' with Jersey
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John Young, the British Crown Dependencies Environment Minister claimed the ban would prevent French vessels that have fished illegally in the Channel from landing their catch on the island. Alongside this, the new legislation which will be debated in June in the Jersey Parliament would also help to stop “illegal fishing” under new illegal, unreported and unregulated [IUU] measures.
It comes after island fishermen raged at French counterparts claiming local waters were being plundered as a new post-Brexit fishing relationship sparked tension in the region.
The Jersey Fishing Association also claimed Jersey ministers were trying to start a war with French counterparts over post-Brexit fishing rights.
In the proposition for the legislation, submitted by Mr Young, Ministers argue the Brexit arrangements with Brussels were “likely to have an impact on trade in fish and fish products”.
This, the proposition argued, was specifically on Jersey vessels’ ability to “land catch into the EU and French vessels’ ability to land into Jersey.”
The proposition added of the new IUU measures: “Implementing IUU measures in Jersey is thought to be an important element in assuring the continuation of trade in fishery products between Jersey and the EU.”
It stressed it was vital for the continued trade in capture fishery products in “addition to the health, customs and trade requirements” following Brexit.
Ministers warned if IUU controls were not implemented in Jersey, there is potential for “exploitation of a loophole” from third-country vessels from France.
The proposition concluded: “Resolving this aspect at this time will give the necessary reassurance to the UK, EU and international bodies that Jersey is meeting international standards in prevention of IUU fishing.”
Under the laws, two years in prison and a fine could be on the cards for French fishermen who fish in Jersey waters without a licence issued by island authorities if the bill is adopted on June 8.
It comes after the Jersey Government agreed to a second amnesty period until June 30 to allow French fishermen access to the islands waters following demands from France and the EU.
An agreement was reached in January to allow EU boats to continue to fish in Jersey waters until May 1 as a new post-Brexit license system was developed by the Jersey Government.
But France and the EU complained this was not enough time for French fishermen primarily from Normandy and Brenton to apply for new licences granting permission to fish within the isle’s 12-mile limit.
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Under the amnesty period, French boats were still allowed to fish in the islands’ waters without a licence.
In a statement, the Jersey Fishing Association said: “It would seem that ministers, in approving the amnesty extension, are keen to appease a rather hostile French government while being apparently oblivious to the fact that we have a struggling fleet of our own.”
The Association said the new post-Brexit arrangements for island fishing would “continue much of the previous imbalance and bias of fishing rights, favouring France, in Jersey’s waters, that existed under the catastrophic Granville Bay Treaty.”
Jersey Ministers are also currently undergoing negotiations with the EU regarding the situation.
Fishing in Jersey had previously been managed under the Treaty of the Bay of Granville which presided over the destinies of the fishing rights of French boats in Jersey waters since 1839.
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