The island of Jersey is the scene of the last fishing conflict due to Brexit. A dispute that faces the United Kingdom and France and has been tense with threats of reprisals and the dispatch of two Royal Navy ships to the area on Thursday , to which the French responded by sending two patrol boats.
The military surveillance coincided with the protest of 60 ships arriving from Normandy and Brittany to the port of St Helier, in the Jersey capital, which ended up withdrawing in the early afternoon without incident.
Fishing activities reduction
The origin of the conflict is in the restrictions of the licenses of fishing for the access of the French boats to the waters of the island under British sovereignty, but located just 22 kilometers from France. The government of Paris denounces the fact that only 41 boats of the 344 that appeared on the list have been authorized to fish, from April 30 until the end of the year .
In addition to that, limits have not been previously agreed and without notice, on the number of days that can be fished, the species that can be caught and the types of fishing methods allowed. The French Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin indignantly demanded on Tuesday that the agreed commitments be fulfilled and threatened the possibility ofcut off the electricity supply to Jersey which is fed by a submarine cable from France.
French fishermen fear that their fishing quota will be reduced exponentially. A real ruin if you consider that a quarter of the French catch by volume comes from British waters . With the approval of the Brexit agreement last Christmas Eve, European fleets already gave up 25% of their fishing in the area and this decision was intended to remain intact until 2026, when the parties will again discuss the terms of the treaty.
“Any new conditions for authorizations that limit fishing activities must comply with the objectives and principles of the agreement, but must also have a clear and rational scientific explanation,” stressed a spokeswoman for the European Union.
The new decisions taken by the British “are not foreseen” in the Brexit treaty signed on December 24 between the United Kingdom and the European Union, according to the French regional fisheries committees. They also stress that any change in the treaty must be notified “soon enough to the other party to discuss it”, something that, as they have denounced, “has not been done”.
In order to defuse the tension, the Jersey authorities met with the French fishermen to “listen to their concerns”. “We have agreed that all parties will continue to engage with our partners in the European Union and France to resolve fishing license concerns , ” stated Senator Ian Gorst from Jersey.