French fishermen regain Jersey rights pending further talks

Norman and Breton boats which previously fished in the island’s waters will be able to return temporarily

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Jersey officials have sought to calm tensions over fishing rights by allowing French boats to continue fishing as usual until July 1.

There were clashes earlier this month after only 41 boats were given licences out of some 344 that applied for continued rights under the new post-Brexit regime.

Dozens of Norman and Breton fishing boats protested off the shore of Jersey capital St Helier and the UK and France dispatched patrol boats.

French ministers said Jersey, supported by the UK, had imposed new conditions that had not been discussed, and had not issued the expected number of licences.

Jersey officials said the problem had been inadequate paperwork submitted by some fishermen.

French MP for the Manche area Bertrand Sorre has stated that new “limitations and technical measures imposed on our fishermen by Jersey and the UK have been suspended until July 1 to allow negotiations to continue”.

It comes as French Fishing Minister Annick Girardin wrote on Wednesday to the European commissioner for fishing, asking that the effects of the Brexit deal with regard to fishing rights be suspended and that the commission should check the legality of Jersey and the UK’s actions under the deal.

Mr Sorre confirmed that the suspension covered all boats that were previously able to fish in the waters, who will be able to resume their activities, pending the talks.

In a statement, Jersey Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Gorst said this was a gesture of goodwill but did not mean there would be a return to the status quo before Brexit.

“Jersey wishes to find a solution, but we remain firm on our wish to remain master of our waters,” he said.

Unnamed sources were quoted by the Reuters agency and in the British press this week as saying France has threatened to hold up a UK-EU deal on financial services – which bankers in the City of London are keen to see finalised – unless the fishing issue is resolved.

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