Published: Fri, May 07, 2021

Brexit fishing row deepens as France rejects British demands

Brexit fishing row deepens as France rejects British demands

French fishermen angry over loss of access to waters off their coast gathered their boats in protest Thursday off the English Channel island of Jersey, the flashpoint for the first major dispute between France and Britain over fishing rights in the wake of Brexit.

French fishing fleet is seen at the entrance to the harbour in St Helier, Jersey May 6, 2021.

"With regards to Jersey, I would remind you, for example, of electricity transmission by underwater cable".

The decision was the result of a discussion between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and local officials about "the prospect of a blockade" of Jersey capital Saint Helier, the statement read.

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

A fleet of French fishing boats converged on the island of Jersey to protest on Thursday, amid an escalating row over post-Brexit fishing rights.

The Jersey spat is part of an escalating dispute between the European Union and the United Kingdom over fishing rights, with boats from both sides facing administrative hurdles and being turned away over paperwork.

The Prime Minister reiterated his unequivocal support for Jersey and confirmed that the two Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels would remain in place to monitor the situation as a precautionary measure.

On Tuesday, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin warned that France could cut electricity supplies to Jersey in retaliation, a sharp escalation condemned by the British government as "unacceptable".

Johnson "stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions", a spokesperson for Johnson said.

The village of Saint Aubin, on Jersey, one of the Channel Islands.

France threatens to cut electricity to British island in post-Brexit fisheries dispute

'Fishermen from Jersey should not be able to land at Granville, ' he said, referring to the French port nearest the island.

Jersey's external relations minister, Ian Gorst, said the island had issued permits in accordance with the post-Brexit trade terms, and that they stipulated any new license must reflect how much time a vessel had spent in Jersey's waters before Brexit.

"We have means at our disposal". Paris has accused the British government off using red tap to limit fishing which French leaders claim is in breach of the agreement made in negotiations previous year.

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

On Friday, Britain authorised 41 ships equipped with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) technology - which allows ships to be located - to fish in waters off the island of Jersey, which is a self-governing British Crown Dependency.

In response, Brexit leader Nigel Farage said: "If the French are prepared to behave like this then thank God we left".

"We will continue to do everything we can to make sure this agreement is respected", he said.

France said its two vessels were not on military missions and were told to stay in French waters and to be near the French fishermen to ensure safety.

They are both 90.5m in length, have two large guns, including a short-range anti-aircraft weapon, and are crewed by 45 sailors and up to 50 Royal Marines.

We agreed that all sides remain committed to engaging with our partners in the European Union and France to resolve the concerns arising from the issuing of fishing licenses under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which led to today's protest.

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