French fisherman warns of 'never-ending war' with Jersey waters
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Don Thompson, Chairman of the Jersey Fishing Association, claimed isle fishermen “watched helplessly” as French vessels plundered Channel fishing waters. It comes just hours after the EU has downgraded the island’s waters meaning selected types of shellfish are not allowed to be exported unless they are ready for human consumption.
The new position, announced by the EU Commission last month, prevents scallops, clams, cockles, oysters and mussels known as bivalve molluscs from being exported to the bloc.
In a statement today, Mr Thompson said: “‘The situation remains extremely tense and anger amongst fishermen has reached boiling point.
“The EU recently downgraded Jersey’s clean waters to category B, resulting in Jersey catches being impounded by French Customs and Jersey’s fleet having to remain tied up.”
The claims are the latest in a furious row between the British Crown Dependency and France over post-Brexit fishing rights.
Currently, arrangements for post-Brexit fishing in Jersey’s waters have been finalised in the short-term with an amnesty period until May 1.
The agreement allows French vessels to temporarily fish in English Channel waters but there is no long term deal beyond then.
Government officials are therefore implementing a new strict proposed licencing regime from May 1 with ministers stressing if French vessels hadn’t applied for a licence by then, they would not be allowed to fish.
Under the regime, French vessels must prove they have fished in the Channel Islands for ten days in any of the last three years in order to be granted a licence.
Fishing in Jersey had previously been managed under the Treaty of the Bay of Granville which presided over the destinies of the fishing rights of French boats in Jersey waters since 1839.
But the Channel Islands had been negotiating with French officials on future access licensing terms since the UK fully left the EU on December 31.
Jersey is not part of the UK and manages fishing vessels licensing themselves as part of the States of Jersey.
Mr Thompson claimed Jersey’s fishermen felt “betrayed and neglected by our own government” due to the lack of engagement on the row.
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He added: “Our ministers appear willing to allow this ridiculous and unacceptable situation to continue, in the mistaken belief that the EU might otherwise reinstate the Granville Bay Treaty.
“Jersey Fishermen’s Association has prepared a set of proposals, backed by a small number of backbench politicians, aimed at preventing further decimation of the Island’s fish stocks and marine resource.
“Closing our waters to fishing by EU vessels for all those species that our fleet are banned from landing and exporting, as outlined in the proposals, would be entirely justified and would, within days, bring about a solution.”
He claimed ministers had “refused” to meet the association to discuss solutions stressing the “frictionless trade promised by the EU-UK trade deal had not materialised.”
The Jersey Government has been approached for comment.
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