Listen, Emmanuel! Macron told to back off as France turns fishing row into ‘Brexit battle’

Jersey 'isn't backing down' on fisheries in says expert

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Ministers have been dealing with a tense row over the licensing of French fishing boats with tensions flaring over the new access rules. Around 50 French boats converged on Jersey’s harbour at Saint Helier, prompting Britain to dispatch two Navy vessels in case of a blockade.

Officials from the British Crown Dependency have now delayed the new rules for fishing in Channel waters until July 1 from April 30 as a “sign of good faith” after hostile talks with Jersey fishermen.

Jersey External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said Jersey wanted to take a “more personal approach” to try to resolve some of the issues around the historic rights of French fishermen.

He rejected calls by France to not speak to the fishermen and urged direct communication, adding: “I don’t think it’s helpful at all to say that we shouldn’t communicate directly with fishermen.

“That wasn’t envisaged in the trade agreement, I accept that.

“But I do think there is value in it because we may be able to work through with individual fishermen’s licences and solve these problems on an individual, boat by boat, basis.”

He also said that he was “disappointed” with politicians in Normandy, who closed their regional embassy, the Maison de Normandie in St Helier.

Sir Philip Bailhache, Jersey’s former Baliff and a leading Channel Island constitutional lawyer said the fishing row was a “regional issue” and “should be resolved locally.”

He added to the JEP: “Neither London nor Paris, and certainly not Brussels, has any real interest in fishing in the Bay of Granville, other than, perhaps, as a proxy battle in the context of Brexit.”

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The comments come as French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said they would reopen negotiations with the Channel Island of Jersey.

Local leaders in Normandy have also lifted a ban on Jersey fishermen landing their catches in its ports.

Negotiations between Jersey and France are set to take place throughout this week with Jersey officials confident of a breakthrough.

However, sources in St Helier told they were confident “would respect Jersey’s sovereignty” and argee a “sensible deal”.

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One official added: “The French just need to listen to us that’s all for our case rather than the bigger picture in the Channel.”

Jersey ministers initially said that from April 30, French boats would be required to obtain licences to carry on fishing in the island’s waters under the terms of the trade deal with the EU.

But French fishermen said the conditions on licenses were imposed without any discussion with Paris, and effectively created new zoning rules.


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