Jersey fishing boss reveals merchants refuse to take goods over fears of French conflict

Jersey fisherman says the ‘situation here is really difficult’

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Don Thompson revealed to Express.co.uk he has had a Jersey fish exporter cancel on him as the company feared French threats. He explained the exporter had its fleet of lorries in Portugal with warehouses full of his and his fellow fisher’s goods but told them they were unable to return to pick up more because they were worried about French fishers kicking off. Mr Thompson added he was bluntly told not to bother fishing as he could not shift it meaning he and his fellow fishermen would potentially lose hundreds of thousands of pounds between them.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Thompson was asked what the morale on the ground was like following the rejection of many French fishing licences by the UK Government.

Mr Thompson was not pleased despite the seemingly positive news as he explained the backlash from France has made many Jersey fishers contemplate whether to stay in the industry or not.

The backlash has also frightened off a merchant who Mr Thompson works for.

He explained: “Have we have one main export merchant, I spoke to the woman that runs it.

“[She said] we’ve got two lorries in Portugal, we’ve got our tanks absolutely full of product from your guys but we can’t buy any more because we can’t bring our lorries up from Portugal.

“Because we’re being told that the French might kick off when the trucks arrive into Saint-Malo.

“So, tell the boys sorry but don’t even go fishing anymore because the tanks are full, we’ve got £100,000 worth of product in the tanks.

“They don’t know if it’s going to be sold or not, you know, the whole situation here is really really difficult from an industry perspective.

GB News: UK turning down French fishing vessels from UK waters

Mr Thompson was asked how his members were feeling about the recent licence rejections and whether it was taken well.

But Mr Thompson was more downtrodden than expected, explaining: “I had to inform the guys… we had a meeting with Government but no figures [were given].

“They just informed us that they were about to conclude some sort of a deal that brings the amnesty to an end and actually allows a fairly large amount of [French] boats to fish without proper licences…

“I had to pass that on to Jersey fishermen and I was getting our guys saying I just feel sick in my stomach because I dedicated my life, my family, everything has been around fishing.

“And I just can’t seem to see a future with such a big fleet of French boats in our waters.”

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Mr Thompson added many had been “battered” over the last nine months and had little assistance through the Covid crisis.

Many fishers had to dip into reserves until things got better but the ongoing row with France has made many consider leaving the job entirely.

From January 1, French boats have had to prove they historically operated in UK waters to be allowed licences to fish there as part of the post-Brexit agreement.

But administration issues have arisen from the deal as many French boats do not have the required documentation to prove they have operated in the waters, nor do French authorities.

As a result, a large portion of French boats has been denied access to UK waters to fish with only 12 of 47 boats being granted licences last month.

Jersey also rejected 75 out of 170 applications, furthering tensions.

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