Jersey: French boats arrive for post-Brexit fisheries protest
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Two Royal Navy vessels are patrolling waters around Jersey amid concerns of a possible blockade of the island due to an ongoing row with France over post-Brexit fishing rights. HMS Severn and HMS Tamar have been deployed by the UK Government to “monitor the situation” at the Channel Island amid a protest by French fishing vessels at the port of St Helier over the lack of access. French maritime minister Annick Girardin warned on Tuesday that the country is ready to take “retaliatory measures”, accusing Jersey of dragging its feet over issuing new licences to French boats.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Jersey Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondre and External Affairs Minister Ian Gorst on Wednesday, and “underlined his unwavering support” for the island.
Paris has warned it could cut off power to the island, which receives 95% of its electricity from France through three undersea cables, in retaliation for the fallout.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “HMS Severn and HMS Tamar are deploying to Jersey to conduct maritime security patrols.
“This is a strictly precautionary measure and has been agreed with the Jersey Government.”
A Downing Street spokesman added: “The Prime Minister and Chief Minister stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions and for dialogue between Jersey and France on fishing access.
“The Prime Minister underlined his unwavering support for Jersey.
“He said that any blockade would be completely unjustified.
“As a precautionary measure the UK will be sending two offshore patrol vessels to monitor the situation.
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“They agreed the UK and Jersey Governments would continue to work closely on this issue.”
Stephanie Yon-Courtin, a French MEP and member of the EU Fisheries Committee, called on the people of Jersey and the UK Government to “understand that our fishermen need to carry on working”.
“This situation is all the more sad because historically Jersey and the French fisherman have always had very cordial and pretty good relations for the past decade,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Some of Jersey’s people need to understand, and Jersey’s government and UK Government, have to to understand that our fishermen need to carry on working.
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Asked if she supported the threat that power could be cut off to Jersey in the future, she added: “I’m just saying that at the last resort, if we don’t have any other means to be understood, then we will have to consider that.
“We don’t want to do that, I don’t think it’s good, I don’t think it’s good for anybody.”
While Don Thompson said Jersey’s fishermen had told the Government they are prepared to ditch their fishing licences if the French win their demands.
He told Good Morning Britain: “We’ve already told our minister – our licences, some of our fishermen have paid a quarter of a million pounds for our licences – we’re going to get rid of our licences and fish without licences.”
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