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French fishermen threaten fresh protests at Jersey

·2-min read
 (AP)
(AP)

French fishermen were on Friday threatening fresh action if new post-Brexit licences for the waters around Jersey cripple their businesses.

Speaking for a group of Normandy fishermen, Cyril Piraud, from Granville, who has invested £2.6 million in two new trawlers, said: “We will not have a lot to lose if we cannot fish.”

Around 70 French boats protested off Jersey on Thursday, with a brief incursion into Saint Helier’s harbour.

Two Royal Navy ships, HMS Severn and HMS Tamar, sent to the island’s waters have now departed and returned to other operational duties.

The French deployed two patrol vessels in a tit-for-tat response.

The British and French governments are trying to resolve the dispute which saw French fishermen saying their rights to fish had been slashed by the new licensing system.

According to The Times,Boris Johnson and President Macron will try to restore the “brotherly” relationship after Thursday’s stand-off.

A senior government source said that both sides were keen to “dial down the rhetoric” before next month’s G7 summit. “We’re a bit like a pair of brothers,” the source said. “We’re the closest allies and there is no fundamental unhappiness but things are bumpy,” The Times reported.

Boris Johnson said he was “pleased that the situation in Jersey has been resolved”.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said efforts would be made to resolve the dispute.

“What we have done is make very clear to the French ministers, who said some very unwise and disproportionate comments, that we will stand with the people of Jersey,” he said.

“This issue now needs to be resolved by diplomacy, by the chief minister and the ministers of Jersey - with the support of the UK Government - working with their counterparts in France and the European Union.”

But the French government hit out at a “British failure” to abide by the terms of the UK-EU trade deal and warned it would “use all the leverage at our disposal” to protect the fishing industry, with a threat to even cut off the electricity supply to Jersey and talk among fishermen of a blockade of Calais.

The European Union also accused the island of breaching the deal signed by the UK and Brussels.

Jersey’s chief minister John Le Fondre said: “We recognise that there have been challenges in the implementation of the new trade agreement.

“Speaking directly to the fishermen has enabled both parties to better understand how those challenges will be addressed, and we are proposing the establishment of a forum which will enable the Government of Jersey to continue to engage with all fishermen in the region openly and constructively.”

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