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Jersey has agreed to issue the first post-Brexit licences to allow French fishing vessels to operate in the English Channel. Following months of tense negotiations with France, the British Crown Dependency said it would allow the French into its waters for the first time under new post-Brexit licencing rules.
It comes after Jersey fisherman struggled to land their catch in France following tight export control placed on their catches after the UK left the EU.
Under the new rules, French boat operators have to show a history of fishing in the area.
Some 41 permits have been issued to French fishermen as the English Channel begins to permanently unlock post-Brexit for the EU for fishing.
The issuing of the permits, the Express understands, are also some of the first issued to French fishermen following protests in Boulogne-Sur-Mer over post-Brexit fishing rights whilst French ministers in the Macron Government urgently called for action by the British and Crown Dependencies.
Both Jersey and the UK Governments were targeted, with concerns over the restrictive nature regarding access for French vessels.
John Young, Jersey’s Environment Minister, said: “We want to maintain traditional fishing activity, while clearly at the same time ensuring fish stocks and the marine environment are protected and that fishing in the region is sustainable.”
Jersey’s External Relations Minister Ian Gorst had discussions with EU Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius on Friday regarding fishing rights for the French and licences.
Mr Gorst added: “‘The commissioner knows that we have a deep and historic relationship with France.
“I was glad to convey that Jersey has been able to meet its obligations and issue the first licences to qualifying French vessels.
“We want to maintain traditional fishing activity, while clearly at the same time ensuring fish stocks and the marine environment are protected and that fishing in the region is sustainable.
“We will continue to engage with our French colleagues to ensure that both Jersey and eligible French vessels are able to access the waters and fish them in a managed, responsible way.”
Immediately after the UK left the EU, Jersey agreed to an interim amnesty arrangement in January allowing French vessels to fish without a licence.
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That amnesty ended on Friday, with all boats over 12m and fitted with the EU’s VMS tracking technology now required to have approval to operate in the area.
EU boats without the VMS tracking technology, but wishing to continue operating in Jersey waters after the end of June, must also have demonstrated a history of fishing in the area.
The UK’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was passed by the Jersey states and also requires Jersey to issue licences to qualifying French vessels – but does not specify how this should be done.
While the UK Government are responsible for the majority of fishing licenses in the English Channel, Jersey is not part of the UK as a Crown Dependency and has its own rules regarding licences alongside Guernsey.
The Jersey Government will also be supporting Island fishermen through financial assistance following anger from Dependency fishermen over the lack of help from their authorities.
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.
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