Jersey hits back at ‘disproportionate’ France electricity threats in fishing licence row

French fisherman warns of 'never-ending war' with Jersey

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Maritime minister Annick Girardin warned on Tuesday France was ready to take “retaliatory measures” after accusing the Channel Island of dragging its feet over issuing new licences to French boats. However, Jersey’s External Relations Minister Senator Ian Gorst insisted that there was no justification for such severe measures. The row came after the island implemented new post-Brexit requirements under the terms of the UK-European Union deal for boats to submit evidence of their past fishing activities in order to receive a licence to carry on operating in Jersey waters.

Mr Gorst told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “This is not the first threat that the French have made to either Jersey or the United Kingdom since we are into this new deal.

“It would seem disproportionate to cut off electricity for the sake of needing to provide extra details so that we can refine the licences.”

Jersey receives 95 percent of its electricity from France through three undersea cables.

Maritime minister Annick Girardin told the French Parliament that it gave Paris the “means” to act against the island if the issue could not be resolved.

“Even though I am sorry that it has come to this, we will do so if we have to,” she said.

Mr Gorst however said the island was not seeking to bar boats that had historically fished in Jersey waters and insisted the dispute could be resolved amicably.

He said that of the 41 boats which sought licences under the new rules last Friday, all but 17 had provided the evidence required.

“The trade deal is clear but I think there has been some confusion about how it needs to be implemented because we absolutely respect the historic rights of French fishermen to fish in Jersey waters as they have been doing for centuries,” he said.

More to follow…

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