Fishermen say that increasing French bureaucracy is putting lives at risk after a Jersey fisher was refused access to Granville at the weekend because he arrived outside of his approved hours.
Michael Michieli, skipper of L’Ecume II, arrived in the Norman port on Sunday to land his catch of mixed wet fish, including brill, ray and turbot. However, he was told by officials that he could not do so, forcing him to sail to Jersey in heavy seas and return on Monday.
Jersey Fishermen’s Association President Don Thompson said that rules restricting landing hours had been introduced at the beginning of the summer and not only made no sense but were also dangerous.
“We have been warning, since this latest barrier to trade with Jersey was put in place, that this would eventually lead to a serious accident or loss of life at sea, due to boats being denied access and being forced to sail from here to France or return in conditions that are not appropriate for the vessel.
“Another of our fishermen with a small 25 ft boat, who has landed in France for many years, was denied the right to land his live catch recently due to being four minutes outside of his allocated time.
“He then had to wait overnight land his catch the following day, then sail on the return voyage on a later tide and consequently put to sea in conditions that were far from safe.
“Interestingly, we are seeing a growing willingness, especially since Jersey has been so generous with issuing free access licenses, at port and regional level, to the resumption of smooth trade. That is obviously for the benefit of all parties.
“It is not speculation, unfortunately, to state that there is a continued hostility from Paris, and that some of the extremely unreasonable measures and constraints being imposed are designed to punish Jersey fishermen for the whole Brexit scenario.”
Mr Thompson added that French fishermen, far from supporting their officials, backed Jersey’s position.
“They are strongly supportive of Jersey because they understand that when you fish and when you land, especially around these waters, is determined by the tide.
The whole industry, including when the markets operate, is set by the tide. It is also a safety issue, which the French fishermen are also fully appreciate of, and back Jersey.”
He added: “This latest incident involving L’Ecume II was not an isolated problem. We have in place now an extremely complex process of submission of catch recordings and various other documents that was put in place by the EU and France for big freezer trawlers that spend months at sea before making a single large landing of many thousands of tons.
“They do not have an issue with submitting documentation even a week or so in advance, yet we have to follow the same rules.
“The whole electronic submission of multiple documents for our boats - with validation required from the UK as well as from offices in Paris, before a boat, who may already be on his way to catch the tide, can land - is wrought with difficulties and almost designed to fail.
“Jersey is, once again, being punished for Brexit – something we didn’t even have a say in.”
External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf said that the restrictions on opening times were discriminatory and he would be speaking to officials in Paris and Brussels to find a solution.
"Discussions on fishing are at a delicate stage and I am confident of a successful resolution, but I am never complacent," he said.
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