Jersey Militia member fires at French boats with musket gun
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The man, seen standing at Elizabeth Castle this morning aimed his musket at the open water. The sight of dozens of French fishing vessels approaching a harbour in Jersey in a Brexit protest as flares shot up into the sky has been described as looking “like an invasion”. Some 60 boats were estimated to have gathered at the port of St Helier on Thursday morning amid a “sea of red lights and flares”.
Jersey fisherman Josh Dearing said French vessels had first gathered from about 4.30am outside the harbour, before moving into the harbour after 6am and retreating shortly after 7am.
The 28-year-old, who owns The Jersey Catch fishing company, said the scene was “was quite a sight”.
Two Royal Navy vessels are patrolling waters around Jersey amid concerns of a possible blockade of the island due to an ongoing row with France over post-Brexit fishing rights.
HMS Severn and HMS Tamar have been deployed by the UK Government to “monitor the situation” at the Channel Island amid a protest by French fishing vessels at the port of St Helier over the lack of access.
French maritime minister Annick Girardin warned on Tuesday that the country is ready to take “retaliatory measures”, accusing Jersey of dragging its feet over issuing new licences to French boats.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Jersey Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondre and External Affairs Minister Ian Gorst on Wednesday, and “underlined his unwavering support” for the island.
A simmering row over fishing rights has escalated this week, with a French minister suggesting French electricity supplies to Jersey could be cut, and Britain despatching two navy patrol boats to the island.
Hugo Lehuby, a representative for the Normandy regional fishing committee which helped organise Thursday’s protest, said the French flotilla would not seek to impede access to Jersey ports, or stop local fishing vessels from operating.
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“The objective is to express our unhappiness about the restrictive measures that were imposed,” Lehuby told Reuters by telephone, adding that he expected the flotilla to return to their home ports by the end of Thursday.
“This is not a blockade,” he said. “It’s not our objective to smash stuff up.”
Ship-tracking website marinetraffic.com showed around 25 French-registered vessels off the Jersey port of St Helier on Thursday morning.
The same website showed that one of the two British naval vessels despatched to the island, HMS Tamar, was positioned approximately 6 km (4 miles) to the south-west of the flotilla.
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The second vessel, HMS Severn, was around 9 km to the west.
Neither of the vessels appeared to be moving towards the French flotilla.
A spokeswoman for the Jersey government said officials were monitoring the situation, but had no immediate comment.
The island of Jersey sits 14 miles (23 km) off the northern French coast and 85 miles (140 km) south of Britain’s shores.
Jersey’s government said the island had issued new fishing permits in accordance with the post-Brexit trade terms, which included new conditions for license-holders.
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