Brexit rebellion: French ships welcomed in Channel as Guernsey takes Macron friendly lead

Jersey 'isn't backing down' on fisheries in says expert

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The British Crown Dependency, which neighbours Jersey who are involved in a tense fishing spat, will allow French vessels to plunder waters until February 2022. Under the new rules announced by the Channel island administration, new post-Brexit fishing licences will be issued to French crews by December 1.

But they will not be required until February 1, 2022 which will allow French fishermen time to deal with any disputes before the new licences become mandatory.

Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, Policy & Resources Committee lead for external relations at the Guernsey Government, said: “The [Trade and Cooperation Argeement] has given the Bailiwick new powers and control over our territorial waters that could not be exercised in the same way when the UK was a member of the EU.”

Deputy Le Tocq stressed Guernsey values “good relationships with Normandy and La Manche”.

He hoped the new timeline “provides certainty about how our fisheries relationship with France will operate in the future.”

 

Deputy Neil Inder, President of the Committee for Economic Development added: “We are doing this at a pace that is right for the Bailiwick, and we look forward to progressing other work with our neighbours as soon as possible.”

The Guernsey Government hope the move will allow Channel island fishermen to land their catches in the French port of Diélette.

The approach taken by St Peter Port also contrasts to neighbouring St Helier who have given unlicenced French vessels 30 days to stop operating in their waters.

But France on Tuesday warned that it could cut the power supply of the British Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands to put pressure on London over fishing rights.

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Britain refused to grant all the fishing licences sought by French boats as part of a post-Brexit access deal, leaving Paris furious and fishermen worried for their livelihoods.

Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey are close to France which supplies them with electricity.

France said last week that it would quickly layout retaliatory measures over fishing rights “towards the British and also our neighbours in Jersey”.

Fishing rights for EU boats in UK waters were a key stumbling block to negotiations for a post-Brexit trade accord between London and Brussels after Britain’s exit from the bloc on January 1, 2021.

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The dispute flared in May when a flotilla of around 50 French trawlers massed in front of the Saint Helier harbour on Jersey, a self-governing territory that along with fellow crown dependency Guernsey depends on Britain for its defence.

The protest sparked a tense standoff that even drew in French and British military vessels.

Since then, French fishermen have applied for the new access licences but complain of onerous paperwork and a requirement to prove they had fished in British and Jersey waters before Brexit, not always an easy task, especially for smaller boats.

Last Wednesday, Britain said it would grant just 12 out of 47 applications for new licences for small EU boats, while Jersey issued 64 full and 31 temporary licences but refused 75 applications.

Guernsey is yet to announce how many licences it will grant French fishermen.

The Crown Dependency is not part of the UK but often aligns policies and agreements, have had discussions with their France counterparts alongside the UK and EU.

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