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AFP
May 6, 2021

Jersey hits back in French post-Brexit fishing spat

AFP
May 6, 2021

LONDON: The Channel Island of Jersey on Wednesday slammed as “disproportionate” French threats of reprisals, including cutting off electricity supplies, over contentious new post-Brexit fishing rules.

France warned on Tuesday it was weighing its response after the UK imposed the rules governing access for French fishing boats near the Channel Islands, and said it could involve electricity supplied via underwater cables.

French maritime minister Annick Girardin accused Jersey, the largest Channel Island, of dragging its feet over the issuing of licences to French vessels under the terms of Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels.

Jersey, a self-governing British Crown dependency off the coast of France, has said it will require boats to submit further details before the licences could be granted, and pleaded for patience.

The deepening row over fishing is one of several disputes that have emerged between the UK and the European Union since London left the bloc’s single market and customs union at the start of the year.

Jersey’s External Affairs Minister Ian Gorst told BBC Radio on Wednesday: “It would seem disproportionate to cut off electricity for the sake of needing to provide extra details so that we can refine the licences. I do think a solution can be found. I am optimistic that we can provide extra time to allow this evidence to be provided.”

Paris and London have increasingly clashed over fishing in recent weeks, as French fishermen say they are being prevented from operating in British waters because of difficulties in obtaining licences.

In the latest move, Britain on Friday authorised 41 ships equipped with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) technology—which allows ships to be located—to fish in waters off Jersey.

But this list was accompanied by new demands which France’s fisheries ministry has said were not arranged or discussed with Paris, effectively create new zoning rules for the waters near Jersey.

UK government minister Nadhim Zahawi the two sides needed to work “constructively” on “operational challenges that we need to fix together”. “This is an issue for the (European) Commission to work with our team,” he told Sky News.