France fishing war: PM lashes Jersey as spat erupts after French boats blocked from waters

Brexit deal ‘demands’ future ‘compromise’ on fishing says expert

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Jersey should issue more licences to enable hundreds of Norman and Breton vessels to access the Island’s waters. He claimed their actions were unfair and should be addressed immediately.

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.

But the Channel Islands had been negotiating with French officials on future access licensing terms since the UK fully left the EU on December 31st.

Jersey is not part of the UK and manages fishing vessel licensing themselves as part of the States of Jersey.

As part of an interim deal, French boats were still allowed to fish in the islands’ waters under the Bay of Granville treaty.

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But Jersey removed those temporary measures and are now implementing a new strict proposed licencing regime.

Under the regime, French vessels must prove they have fished in the Channel Islands for ten days in any of the last three years in order to be granted a licence.

Only 57 French vessels have been granted access to the waters despite 340 applying.

If all were granted the number of French fishing boats would outnumber Jersey’s 75 which are currently licensed to fish.

Mr Castex said today: “We have obtained the right to continue fishing in the six-to-12-mile zone off the United Kingdom and off Jersey and Guernsey.

“This must now materialise – the Minister of the Sea is fighting every day for the recognition and rights of our fishermen in this.

“We will be very firm on this, particularly with the European Commission, so that the agreement is upheld.”

It comes as French ministers threatened to lobby the European Commission to trigger a clause within the UK-EU Brexit trade agreement.

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This could lead to Jersey being excluded from the deal due to a breach of terms negotiated between Lord Frost and Michel Barnier last year.

French MEPs Pierre Karleskind and Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, Éric Bothorel, Bertrand Sorre and Stéphane Travers also co-signed a letter to European Commissioner for the Environment, the Ocean and Fisheries expressing concerns.

Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey’s External Relations Minister, however, said Jersey “will always uphold and implement its international obligations.”

He added: “We will continue to engage with our fishermen and will provide as much information and support as we possibly can now that these new arrangements are in place.

“Jersey’s objectives remain to strengthen relations and our friendship with France, especially in Normandy and Brittany, to conserve fishery resources in our waters and to ensure the prosperity of the local communities which depend for their well-being on access to a sustainable fishery resource in our waters.”

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