French fishers will carry out more actions if the fishing licences introduced by the Jersey Island government remain
French fishers have pledged that they will carry out more actions if the fishing restrictions introduced by the Jersey Island government remains in place.
Yesterday, Thursday 06 May, saw the French take to protesting by driving their boats into the harbour at St Helier in the early morning and causing a blockade before spending most of the rest of the day lying off the island’s south coast.
Officials from four French ports demanded to speak to representatives from the Jersey Island government who accommodated their request, but after talks ended in deadlock, the French fleet returned home late yesterday afternoon frustrated by the lack of progress.
Tensions were running high all day, and the UK had sent to Royal Navy boats to the scene, the HMS Severn and the HMS Tamar. The French navy had also mobilised two of its boats, read for action if tensions spilled over.
Local paper, the Jersey Evening Post, reports that the French delegation expressed their anger at the new licences issued by the island’s government calling them “unworkable” and threated that they would stop Jersey fishing boats from landing in French ports.
Camille Lecureuil from Carteret told the island’s officials, “If this is not resolved, it will be the end of fishing for people in Normandy and the end of us – bankruptcy – as well.
“It will also not just be us affected. Everybody will be impacted, the Jersey people and Jersey fishermen, as well as commerce between Jersey and France. It will be finished.”
Last night it was reported by The Fishing Daily, that a Jersey fishing vessel which traditionally landed it’s catch in Carteret was forced to abandon unloading its catch of cuttlefish in the port when it was turned away.
Whereas the French left feeling frustrated the Jersey government felt they had a constructive meeting. In their press release they stated:
Representatives from the Government of Jersey have met French fishermen and listened to the concerns that led to today’s protest.
The 90-minute meeting was between the Assistant Minister for the Environment, Deputy Gregory Guida, Government of Jersey officers, and representatives from the estimated 56 French vessels which arrived in Jersey this morning.
In order to comply with Jersey’s Covid guidelines, the Government representatives used the Norman Le Brocq Fisheries boat, while the French fishermen were onboard another vessel.
Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré said: “The French fishermen protested peacefully and respectfully, and were able to set out their concerns directly to Government representatives.
“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.
“I’d like to thank Deputy Guida and all the other parties whose work has enabled the French fishermen to leave Jersey knowing that they had been listened to, and that a step has been taken towards resolving the issues that have arisen during the move to the new trade agreement.”
Don Thompson, head of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association has called on the Jersey government to “stand firm” and not to give into the demands of the French.
Amid the escalating diplomatic row over access to Jersey’s waters, Mr Thompson, speaking to the Jersey Evening Post said it would be ‘unacceptable’ to Islanders if ministers caved in to French tactics. Government officials, including Assistant Environment Minister and French-speaker Deputy Gregory Guida, met protesting French fishermen in a bid to quell the crisis.
Mr Thompson said: “The message to government is we must stand firm here.
“We do not want to discriminate against the French fleet unfairly, but we are not able to with the TECA anyway. If Senator Gorst wants to negotiate that would be totally unacceptable to the public in Jersey and, frankly, unacceptable to our fishermen.”
Mr Thompson said the French fleet wanted licences “without conditions”, which was a “non-starter”.
Asked whether there would be a resolution, Mr Thompson said: “I foresee that the problem is not going to go away, unfortunately.
“Some of the demands that have been made already over just four months – Jersey has effectively given in and gone subservient to those demands, which has resulted in the situation here. This will just continue as we try to manage our fish stocks.”