UK increases angling stakes with France
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed his “unwavering support” for the island of Jersey in the English Channel and ordered Royal Navy ships to patrol the waters off the island amid a dispute growing with France on post-Brexit fisheries agreements.
French fishing vessels arrived at the port of Saint Helier in Jersey on Thursday to protest the lack of access to British fishing grounds, French trawler crews angry at restrictions imposed by the island as part of ‘a system launched late last month, British and French media reported.
French authorities have also confirmed that they will send a military vessel arriving “shortly” to carry out a “patrol mission”, according to a Sky News report, which also suggested that a second boat was on its way.
The BBC said around 70 French fishing boats made the trip to the island.
Fisherman Camille Lecureuil, from the port of Carteret on the French coast opposite Jersey, told Agence France-Presse on Thursday afternoon that protesters would block a cargo ship that was due to leave the port, but that they were planning to return in France.
“Everyone seems to have decided to prevent him from leaving. The fishing boats are set up at the entrance to the port,” he said from his boat.
“It’s a peaceful movement, things don’t have to get out of hand. We even have the support of Jersey. Three fishing boats from the island have come to support us.”
Some Jersey fishermen are supporting the protest, The Guardian reported. He quoted Chris Le Masurier, owner of the Jersey Oyster Company, who said the conditions imposed on French fishermen were “insulting and discriminatory”.
A spokesperson for Johnson said the Prime Minister had telephone conversations with the Jersey Chief Minister and Jersey Minister for External Relations on Wednesday evening which “underscored the urgent need for a de-escalation of tensions and a dialogue between Jersey and France on access to fishing “.
Previously, France had threatened to cut the power supply to the Channel Island because of the dispute. French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin warned that Paris was ready to take “retaliatory measures”.
Authorities in Jersey have requested that French vessels be fitted with monitoring devices and meet other criteria to obtain licenses for the number of days they can operate in shared waters, the Financial Times reported.
The European Union warned in a statement that the application of such conditions without prior warning violated the EU-UK trade agreement reached last year.