Jersey: French fishermen ‘taking fight to UK’ says expert
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Local Government in La Manche, Normandy announced fishermen from the British Crown Dependency would not be allowed to enter the ports of Granville, Barneville-Carteret and Dielette to land their catch. It comes after 60 boats approached the port of St Helier after claims French fishermen were being unfairly deprived of access to rich fishing grounds off the coast of Jersey.
The protest was provoked after Jersey authorities imposed new licensing conditions on the majority of French vessels for fishing in Crown Dependency waters on April 30.
Jersey stressed it is following the rules for issuing licenses set out in Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, something which Paris disputes.
After the 13 hour standoff on Thursday which involved two Royal Navy vessels being sent from the UK, Whitehall officials are pushing for a diplomatic solution with France to the row.
Jersey fisherman initially claimed they were unable to land their fresh catch in France on Thursday after reportedly being “intimidated and harassed”.
Don Thompson, President of the Jersey Fishing Association, also feared the row could cause some of his colleagues to go out of business.
He added: “The real hardship genuinely is on this side and I’m seeing my colleagues going out of business, fishermen that have done nothing else all their life, made a commitment to the industry since they were very young, having to sell their boats and walk away from the industry.”
Mr Thompson called for a “show of good faith from France” in what is a “highly political” situation affected by the repercussions of Brexit.
Ian Gorst, Jersey’s external relations minister said the Government “regretted” the decision and claimed the move broke the trade agreement.
He added: “For that reason we are referring the notice of this decision immediately to the European Commission.”
However, French minister of trade Franck Riester called on the UK and Jersey to “respect the conventions” of the Brexit trade deal signed on Christmas Eve.
Mr Reister added: “We will not compromise, the law is very clear, conventions must be respected.”
The French Minister claimed the new licensing regulations imposed by Jersey had “not been agreed upon or discussed with French or European authorities.”
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He added: “It is in contradiction with what was in the cooperation agreement.”
Regional ministers in Normandy and Brittany have also written to European Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius demanding the EU intervenes and issues an ultimatum to Jersey and UK authorities.
In a letter, they wrote: “Already hard hit by the health crisis, the fisheries sector needs to feel that the Union is there to protect them.
“We are therefore counting on you to fully enforce the agreements signed so that all parties can benefit from a fair and non-discriminatory access to fishery resources.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said efforts would be made to resolve the dispute with Emmanuel Macron’s government and the EU.
Meanwhile, the EU Commission said the issue was being “looked into” by officials.
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