The President of the Policy & Resources Committee Deputy for the States of Guernsey, Gavin St Pier has said “This proactive step is aligned with the intention that the Transition Period provides continuity and stability to enable negotiations to take place. This is an important step to assist the negotiations during this year and to ensure that we protect our good neighbourhood relationship with France and in particular Normandy. It also demonstrates the greater control that the Bailiwick has over its own waters following the extension of our territorial seas in 2019, a step taken to prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU.”
The President of the Committee for Economic Development, Deputy Charles Parkinson said “Our trading relationship with France is important, particularly in terms of landing fish into Normandy. This continuity arrangement helps to protect the interests of Bailiwick fishermen during the Transition Period, including that trading relationship. We will need to negotiate our own future fisheries management arrangements that will suit the needs of the Bailiwick from 2021 onwards. We have achieved this while ensuring that there is no greater fishing activity by EU vessels in our waters during this time, it does not prejudice the future negotiations, it does not provide new rights of French vessels, and is for a time limited period only.”
In France the move has been heavily condemned by fishermen and politicians.
Sonia Krimi, Member of Parliament for La Manche hit hard at the action saying “Following the decision, against all odds, of the government of Guernsey, to close the fishing areas to French vessels, I firmly condemn this hasty and disrespectful decision of the friendship of our two countries.
“The placing of individual fishing licenses for French vessels still remains crowded and does not meet the minimum requirements to ensure continuity of fishing on the Normandy coasts in the coming weeks. This political decision involves an inconsiderate risk for our sector.
“State Services, the Prefecture of Lan Manche and the Ministry of Agriculture are currently in contact with the authorities of Guernsey in order to find a rapid solution for the resumption, as soon as possible, of French fishing, in the waters of the Anglo-Normandy islands.”
Some in the fishing industry in the south of England have also expressed their concerns and disappointment over the decision and the way it has been handled.