Jersey denies licenses to 75 French boats to fish in island waters


Tensions with France over post-Brexit fishing rights have threatened to escalate after Jersey said it refused license applications for 75 French boats to operate in its waters.

The Paris government reacted with fury on Tuesday when the UK said it was issuing licenses to just 12 of the 47 small French boats that applied to fish in its territorial waters.

French ministers accused Britain of taking their fishing industry “hostage” and warned of possible “retaliatory measures”.

The angry exchanges came just months after the French threatened to cut off the power supply to Jersey – which gets 95% of its electricity from France – while dozens of French boats surrounded the main port of the island, St Helier.

External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said Jersey had taken a ‘pragmatic’ approach (Lauren Hurley / PA)

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Jersey government said of the 170 French boats that have applied for licenses, 64 have been granted.

Another 31 are being issued temporary licenses to give them more time to show they have a history of fishing in Jersey waters under the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

Boats that had not obtained a license were given 30 days notice that the existing transitional arrangements were ending, after which they would no longer be allowed access to the waters of the island.

External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said they had taken “a pragmatic, reasonable and evidence-based approach”, extending the transitional arrangements on several occasions even though they were not required to do so under of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACT).

“We are now in a position to ensure that the boats which have fished in these waters can continue to do so, so it is time next month for our transitional arrangements to end,” he said.

“We will continue to have an open door to further data and evidence of fishing activity, including for vessels that have already been considered, and we look forward to working collaboratively to resolve the remaining complex issues. . “

On Tuesday, the UK government said it would also consider any other evidence provided in support of pending French license applications.

However, French Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin immediately accused the British of reneging on their obligations.

“It is a new refusal of the British to apply the conditions of the Brexit agreement despite all the work undertaken together,” she told Le Monde.

“I have only one watchword; to obtain final licenses for our fishermen as provided for in the agreement.

“French fishing should not be taken hostage by the British for political ends. “

French European Minister Clément Beaune said “we will not hesitate to take retaliatory measures, collectively,” the Daily Telegraph reported.

“We understand and share the frustration of our fishermen.

The latest row comes at a time when relations between the UK and France are already at an all-time low.

Paris was furious after Australia announced it was canceling an order for French submarines following a new defense pact with Britain and the United States.

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