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Fishermen plan legal action over Brexit deal

Fishermen plan legal action over Brexit deal

Thursday 28 January 2021

Fishermen plan legal action over Brexit deal

Jersey fishermen are planning on taking legal action to challenge the island’s post-Brexit relationship with France.

The Jersey Fishermen’s Association believes that the parts of the UK/EU trade deal that relate to Jersey are discriminatory and also the boundaries of Jersey’s three-mile limit are mapped out incorrectly.

Association president Don Thompson said the need for a new agreement was even more important after the news that Jersey and the EU had agreed to an amnesty to allow the provisions of the trade deal to bed in.

It means that boats who had a licence under the old Bay of Granville Agreement will be able to fish in Jersey waters until the end of April. 

This gives time for French fishermen to apply to Jersey a licence under the new criteria outlined in the trade deal, which includes providing evidence that the licence has been used recently. Jersey had initially proposed a bedding-in period but this was rejected by the EU for failing to satisfy "strict legal requirements."

However, it was reinstated after External Relations Minister Ian Gorst met the EU Commissioner for Fisheries on Monday.

This interim measure – designed to quieten voices of dissent in France – has been heavily criticised by Mr Thompson.

“This is just incredible bullying tactics used by the French and to see our Government capitulate to that and be subservient is shocking," he said.

“We have a fleet of relatively small boats that fish to demand so it’s a fairly sustainable model. The French, on the other hand, have really big boats, subsidised by the EU, which are capable of wiping out an area in a matter of weeks. 

“They leave our grounds completely devastated. It looks like this amnesty will result in about 380 boats having access to our waters; in Jersey, we have around 50 full-time vessels and another 60- or 70 part-time ones. It’s totally unacceptable. It’s not even good news for the French who fish from nearby ports.”

Mr Thompson said the JFA was now considering using the courts to challenge the terms of the trade deal.

Jersey territorial waters.jpeg

Pictured: The JFA believes that Jersey's three-mile limit - the inner broken line - should stretch from Jersey's reefs and not just from the main island.

“The Association has worked to represent our fleet for a very long time. We have never used legal assistance to get a result, instead preferring to work closely with ministers.

“However, we are now working with lawyers to try to establish if what Jersey is doing is discriminatory and against the terms of maritime law.

“It is just a desperate situation that we cannot allow to continue. We want to challenge elements of the agreement and particularly its discriminatory nature and the sovereignty of our offshore reefs.

“I cannot believe that the External Relations Minister has gone back on his word and allowed boats that do not have much record of fishing in our waters to have access. We shall see how it pans out: there are about 90 days left in the amnesty period and a lot can happen in that time.”

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Posted by gordon le claire on
as normal when the going gets tough the government gives in.
we need a government who will stand for the locals
Posted by Guy de Faye on
The EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Mr Sinkvicious, has stitched up Jersey fisherman in a serious way. A brief examination of his Twitter outlet reveals that he has a strong environmental agenda and is far more interested in elephants and ivory than the welfare of Jersey's fish and fisheries, something of which he clearly knows little about.

I am amazed that our External Relations Minister has used the term "negotiations" when Jersey interests have been "steam rollered" and our Island representatives have clearly caved in almost completely.

It is outrageous that the vessels holding the current 380 "foreign" licences now have a 90 day amnesty to establish the 10 days fishing in the Granville Bay zone to renew their licences for the next 5 years. This potentially gives continued fishing access to a fleet five times the total of our Jersey boats.

As Jersey is now issuing the licences, where are the restrictions?? Have we banned deeply damaging bottom trawling? Is there a limitation on ship tonnage and length, or can factory ships patrol local waters? It is notable that the environmentalist Sinkvicious has apparently failed to impose quotas that might protect and enhance local fish stocks, despite the notorious over fishing record of EU craft and the disastrous EU Common Fisheries Policy.

Our fishermen have been badly let down. If the French are refusing the landing of the Jersey fishing catch, then immediately REVOKE ALL FRENCH LICENCES until the situation is resolved. Arrest and impound illegal interlopers. In the short to medium term compensate our fishermen for their losses. If necessary, subsidise the additional journeys to ports that will accept Jersey fish. The EU and France in particular only understand "hard ball" negotiations. Who were Gorst's advisers dealing with the EU commission? Surely not our highly paid and feather bedded team from the Channel Islands Brussels Office, anxious to preserve their Belgian lifestyle without upsetting their EU colleagues?

The JFA are well advised to call out the lawyers to protect the Island's most ancient industry from rampant greed.
Posted by Donal Dolo on
gorst said it was sorted
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