Jersey: French fishermen ‘taking fight to UK’ says expert
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And Jayne Adye, director of grassroots, cross-Party campaign Get Britain Out, lamented the “wilful ignorance” of the French authorities which she said had paved the way for a “complete disregard” for the sovereignty of the UK Crown Dependency. Ms Adye was speaking in the wake of Tuesday’s incident in which a Normandy registered vessel, based in the port of Granville, was found to be fishing, without permission, in an environmentally protected area of Jersey’s waters.
Jersey’s Assistant Environment Minister Deputy Gregory Guida has vowed to lodge a complaint with the European Commission over what he called a “serious breach”.
The incident comes less than a fortnight after Boris Johnson ordered two Royal Navy gunships to Jersey to face down a threatened blockade of the island by roughly 60 French fishing vessels triggered by Jersey’s imposition of restrictions on the amount of time they can spend in their waters.
Ms Adye told Express.co.uk: “Once again, we see EU fishing vessels and French Government officials believing it should be one rule for them and another for everyone else.
“The claim by the captain of this vessel that his local French authorities had given him permission to work in the area shows the complete disregard these people have for the sovereignty of Jersey – and the rest of the UK.
“This just goes to show the captain, as well as the local French authorities are either wilfully ignorant of the changes which have taken place, or they simply believe they are above the law.”
Ms Adye said: “French authorities have no right to give permission to vessels to fish in Jersey’s sovereign waters.
“The only Government which has this right is the Jersey Government.
“To pretend otherwise is frankly an insult to the principle of sovereignty.”
Jersey alone had the right to grant licences to whoever they wanted to allow to fish in their waters – and likewise had every right to place conditions on such licences, Ms Adye explained.
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She added: ”The fact this is up for debate shows the critical failing of the current UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and makes a mockery of the idea we have ‘Taken Back Control’.
“If any damage has been done to valuable equipment – or the environment for bream reproduction – then compensation should be paid to Jersey fishermen and the Government of Jersey.
“If such action is not taken, then you can be sure French vessels will continue to break the law with impunity.”
Ms Adye declared: “I have no sympathy for these foreign fishermen complaining about having their rights reduced.
“They happily raided our waters when we joined the Common Fisheries Policy, without a care in the world for the livelihoods of UK fishermen.
“Now the boot is on the other foot and they need to realise things are going to change.”
Speaking today, Mr Guida said: “The problem is that this boat was probably thinking it was acting in good faith, following the rules set out by its own department, but it was illegal in Jersey.
“It is a very small area and fishermen are prohibited from working there so that we can study the reproduction of bream in Jersey.”
Also speaking today, Cabinet Office minister Lord David Frost, who has responsibility for relations with the European Union, said: “We have the right to regulate our own waters in a totally different way, to licence fishing vessels and so on, and obviously getting used to that is at the root of some of the difficulty.”
Referring to the events of earlier this month, he added: “We don’t choose gunboat diplomacy but obviously we were reacting to a demonstration that could have caused severe practical problems for Jersey, and it didn’t cause any problems, and I like to think that our naval presence was part of that.”
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