Jersey 'isn't backing down' on fisheries in says expert
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The Channel Island today confirmed it had agreed to a three-month extension to post-Brexit transition arrangements to allow some French vessels to keep fishing in its waters while negotiations over licences continue. And Annick Girardin, Minister of Overseas France, was quick to post a gloating message on Twitter, saying: “#Jersey has finally accepted the 3 month extension of the provisional licenses! A breath of fresh air for our fishermen.
“Our goal now: to continue to protect their rights and ensure that they can continue their activity beyond September 30.”
Meanwhile Clement Beaune, France’s Minister for European Affairs, also weighed in, posting: “We’re making progress!”
“We will continue to defend our fishermen, their interests, the future of (French) fishing.”
Jersey, with its rich fishing grounds, lies 14 miles (22 km) off northern France and 85 miles from Britain’s southern coast.
Mrs Girardin hit the headlines earlier last month when she floated the idea of cutting off Jersey’s electricity supply in retaliation for restrictions on the number of licences issued to French boats.
At the same time, both France and Britain sent patrol vessels off the shores of the British Crown Dependency – after a flotilla of French fishing boats sailed to the island and threatened to blockade its harbour.
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An interim accord had been due to expire on Wednesday.
In accordance with the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, French fishing vessels will then be required to prove the ‘extent and nature’ of past fishing activity for access to be granted.
French fishermen protested, claiming their small boats did not carry the electronic equipment to do this.
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Jersey have said 177 such vessels would be able to keep fishing off its shores while negotiations continued.
Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, said in a statement: “We are offering this extension to the amnesty period to allow the continuation of discussions.”
The amnesty means that until the end of September there will be a suspension on stating the number of days previously fished in Jersey waters and the type of gear used as conditions for access – although Mrs Girardin’s tweet suggested she was unlikely to accept that date as a cut-off point.
Speaking at the time of the threatened blockade, David Jones, deputy chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) told Express.co.uk: “The French position is completely without merit.
“Even if they had reasonable cause for complaint about access to the waters around Jersey and the UK, the way that they are trying to bully their way into getting what they want – by threatening to cut off electricity supplies to Jersey, and now trying to stop UK access to EU financial markets – is wholly illegitimate.”
“Under the TCA, any dispute about fisheries should be referred to the specialist Fisheries Committee for resolution.
“Even if the UK/Jersey were in breach of their obligations, any remedies for such breach would have to be proportionate, and one of those that are set out in the TCA.
“An individual member state has no right to take measures against the UK and, in any event, threatening to cut off electricity supplies or to block UK access to EU financial markets would not be an available remedy under the TCA.”
He added: “The French attitude is becoming increasingly erratic.
“They are behaving like a rogue state, refusing to observe the provisions of the TCA.
“This is probably the consequence of increasing pressure on Mr Macron, who is clearly concerned about his diminishing prospects of re-election next year.”
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