Jersey’s foreign affairs minister has hit back at excessive threats from France to cut off electricity to the island in a dispute over post Brexit fishing rites.
Ian Gorst, external relations minister for Channel Island, said it’s not the first threat that France has made over fisheries as he blamed confusion around the post-Brexit trade agreement for sparking the feud.
Ian Gorst said the argument boiled down to just 17 licences granted to French fishermen on Friday last week, which they feel restricted their historic rights to fish in the waters of Jersey, which lies only 14 miles from the French coast.
He said the fishermen have simply failed to provide enough data about their historic fishing routes, and that as soon as the data is presented the licence will be updated to allow them access.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said that they respect the historic rights of French fishermen to fish in Jersey waters as they have been doing for centuries, but the trade deal, that Jersey didn’t negotiate, and nor did France, says that fishing vessels have to provide all of the evidence of the amount of fishing they’ve done in the last three years.
And that they could see that this was not the first threat that the French have made, either to Jersey or the United Kingdom since they were into this new deal and that it would seem disproportionate to cut off electricity for the sake of needing to provide additional details so that they could refine the licences, and it was said that the trade deal was clear that when fishermen provide the proof, they will provide the licences.
Simmering tensions between France and the United Kingdom over rights to fish in the Channel quickly bubbled over on Friday last week when post Brexit trading rules came into force around the island of Jersey.
The new rules mean that any large French fishing vessels that want to enter the waters will need a licence granted by Jersey’s government.
But fishermen complained the licences had been issued with conditions that they were previously unaware of and which had not been cleared with French authorities.
French regional officials spoke out about the issue at the weekend, before the French government got involved and ramped up the rhetoric.
Annick Girardin, the French seas minister, talked of retaliation measures contained within the trade deal, saying France was ready to use them if they had to, and she said that she would like to mention, that for example, of the transport of electricity by submarine cables, alluding to the possibility of cutting off the supply.
However, the French might do more good by focusing on what’s going on behind them. If Russia decides to push on, then the French might need our help once again.
International waters and maritime laws have been in place for centuries, it’s nothing new, so what’s the dilemma? But the French are in very big trouble with their economy and Macron is presently attempting to look good, and where do these French get all their time from to protest?
And there’s always such an overreaction from the French, and it’s so childish – go to your room and think about your behaviour! But then perhaps this is all about the vengeful French that will never change – France is like an ex-wife who can’t move on, and this is Brexit that just keeps on giving!