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“I want the licences back!”

“I want the licences back!”

Thursday 30 September 2021

“I want the licences back!”

Thursday 30 September 2021

France is once again "en colère" over the right of its fishermen to fish in Jersey’s waters and the threat of retaliatory measures has been raised again - but further protests are on hold for now.

At a national level – and also in Brittany, whose fishermen did not receive many licences – there has been an angry response, and warnings of a potential refusal to land Jersey produce in France or consume it.

But the reaction from Normandy, which did receive the vast majority of the licences they requested, appears to be more muted.

There appear no immediate plans to storm St. Helier Harbour again, as French boats did in May.

However, a threat made in May by France’s Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, to cut off Jersey electricity supply has been raised again, as it was earlier this month when a protest was held where one of the cables lands on the Norman coast. 

Jersey's announcement

Yesterday, Jersey announced that it would issue 64 full permits to French boats, based on evidence supplied of past fishing activity, on top of the 47 that it issued to larger boats earlier in the year.

It would also issue 31 temporary licences, which will become full licences if extra information is provided by the end of January.

In total, 142 French boats could receive a licence, with a further 75 applications refused because, Jersey say, there was no past history of these vessels fishing in the Island’s territorial waters between 2017 and 2020, as set out in the UK’s trade deal with the EU, which defines the post-Brexit arrangements.

A 15-day 'ultimatum'

Yesterday, Mme Girardin issued a 15-day 'ultimatum', after which point retaliatory measures could be announced.

The Jersey issue, however, has been swept up in wider French criticism of the UK, which announced the result of its own licence-issuing exercise on Tuesday. Like Jersey, the UK issued fewer licences that the French requested.

“I want the licenses back!” Mme Girardin said in English yesterday, adding in French: “The British want to divide us with this decision, which comes after too long months of discussions.

“We have provided all the necessary information; we have transmitted all the requested data. 

“This new kick from the British is a demonstration of their unwillingness to respect their commitments. I now call on European solidarity to move towards a balance in our relations with our British neighbours."

You stop us fishing... We stop buying your fish

Other French politicians, however, have specifically mentioned taking measures against Jersey.

Pierre Karleskind, oceanographer, MEP and President of the European Parliament’s Fishing Committee, said: “[The European Commission] have to tell the British Government that 'enough is enough'."

Pictured: A Tweet by MEP Pierre Karleskind calling on Jersey and French regional authorities to be able to talk directly.

He added: “If tomorrow, the fishermen are not allowed to go fishing there, we can consider retaliatory measures on the importation of fish products caught by the fishermen of Jersey

“The Jersey people can say to themselves, ‘Great, we will recover our waters' - except that it is we who consume their fish. These retaliatory measures would be: ‘We stop buying your fish.'

“It could also be: ‘We stop buying other products’ and the last step is to call into question the entire agreement with Jersey, including the supply of electricity. 

“Minister Girardin threatened to cut the power in Jersey a few months ago and this threat is not completely in the air.”

"It's going to end badly"

Breton fishermen – who failed to be issued many licences, with Jersey saying that the region did not provide enough evidence of past activity – were equally bellicose.

Their representative committee issued a statement saying: “On Wednesday afternoon, French fishing professional organisations gave a mandate to the Minister of the Sea to refuse the British licence offer. Annick Girardin has given herself two weeks to calibrate the response with retaliatory measures.

“This is an ultimatum joined by the Breton Fisheries Committees. The National Fisheries Committee has meanwhile warned that it will coordinate actions on the ground if the situation does not develop favourably.”

The committee’s president, Olivier Le Nézet, was reported to have said: “It’s going to end badly”. 

He said he is ready to flex his muscles “since this is all the English understand”, although he added that he was tired of the idea of going to war with Jersey "every four or five months".

"I am driven by anger"

External Relations Minister Ian Gorst met with President of Brittany, Loîg Chennais-Girard, virtually on Wednesday morning. 

Afterwards, Senator Gorst said: “The President expressed concerns on behalf of Breton fishermen but committed to work with us to ensure that all relevant evidence and data is submitted so that vessels which qualify can receive a licence. I re-stated Jersey’s ongoing commitment to work with all relevant parties within the agreement to that end.” 

Pictured: The President of Brittany has called the situation "unacceptable".

M. Chennais-Girard Tweeted yesterday: “I am driven by anger; the situation is unacceptable.

"I call on the European Union to take all possible retaliatory measures to allow this decision [on licensing] to be reviewed. Together, fishermen, authorities, Europe, we must unite to bring the UK back to reason. 

“Fishing in British waters and the Channel Islands is vital for some of our Breton fishermen, and access to our Breton ports is just as important for the fishermen of Jersey.”

"Everyone must make an effort"

The situation in Normandy, which received 72 of the 75 licences it requested after submitting enough information to Jersey, is more complex.

Pictured: French MEP Pierre Karleskind, who presides over the European Parliament's fishing committee, suggests the French should stop buying Jersey fish products in retaliation.

The president of its fishing committee, Dimitri Rogoff, told newspaper Ouest-France that Jersey’s announcement was not a dramatic one for his members. 

He added that there were no plans to repeat May’s protest, when around 75 boats – the most of them from Normandy – sailed to St. Helier.

However, M. Rogoff said that the regional fisheries committee on which he sits backed the position of Mme Girardin and other regions. 

Normandy President Hervé Morin, who attended the Channel Islands-Normandy summit in Jersey last Friday, is reported to have said yesterday: “Everyone must make an effort: France, by communicating the requested data, and the Channel Islands, by relaxing the rules.”


Jersey awaits French reaction after fishing licence decision

Jersey won't 'break Brexit' to resolve fishing row

“Frank” discussions calm French fishing anger as key decision looms

FOCUS: A timely summit aiming to claw back friendship

FOCUS: French make 'power play' as fishing anger flares again

“Incorrect political commentary” puts fishing deal at risk

French PM blames fishing row on lack of "political will"

Minister considering two ‘Plan Bs' to avoid further fishing amnesty extension

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Scott Mills on
Aren't there other countries in Europe or World for instance which we could sell our catch to. Just saying? Jersey playing with the big boys, and end up giving double the amount of licences. This should be a lesson to the island, we are not massive in the World, never have been never will be. We aren't even fry in a small pond. Stick to the old arguement of which is better Jersey or Guernsey. Nice beaches
Posted by IanSmith97 on
I hope all the Francophiles here in Jersey are watching and listening to how their much loved French ‘cousins’ are threatening our Island. You know the sort, those that kid themselves on that Jersey people are basically French. We have been separate from France for 800 years. Get over it. We are British (don’t just take my word for it, check your passports) and must get over this romantic notion we are somehow French and the French love us, they don’t.
Posted by nigel pearce on
Shouldn’t somebody explain to her that they are not her licences to demand back. They are a concession from us to permit their fishermen to fish in our waters. Our terms and conditions should apply.
Posted by Robert Gabriel on
The anti French rhetoric being demonstrated on here is mildly amusing considering how badly Jersey will fare should the French decide to carry out their threat of cutting off our electricity supply. Whilst Jersey might be able to generate enough electricity on island to meet it’s immediate needs the cost of doing so will be astronomical. Apart from extinguishing any hopes of meeting our carbon neutral goals the cost of generating power on-island will quickly translate into a very substantial increase in the cost of everyone’s electricity. Of course whether you support our fishermen or not will become irrelevant as quite a few of them will go to the wall without being able to land their catches in France. In truth Jersey can huff and puff all it likes but the reality is we have no cards to play in this game.
Posted by Guy de Faye on
Jersey people have NEVER been basically French. In respect of prevailing cultures, they have been Celtic, Romano -Celtic, Norman (North man - ie. Anglo-Saxon, Danish, Viking) and it was Norman Duke William (Notre Duc) who took the English crown and set up the original elements of sovereign power that ultimately led to Great Britain.
The Jersey language is NOT French, it is the nearest remaining patois to that spoken by the England conquering Normans.

It so happens that my own family ARE French and the name was associated with the English Plantagenet land holdings that extended to the South of France under King Henry II, who married Alienor D'Acquitaine and was additionally Duke of Normandy.
As a descendant of Protestant Huguenot refugees that came to Jersey, I have little time for the current French Republic and I would urge B'Xpress readers to boycott all French products on sale here at the first sign of any recriminations.

Similarly, as government negotiations and "amnesties" appear to have had no impact, ALL licences should be immediately withdrawn if retaliatory measures are instigated - Including harbour blockades, interference at sea, refusal to land catches or interfering with Jersey's electricity supply. It should also be made abundantly clear that the 12 mile restriction on Jersey fishing grounds will be reinstated sooner or later.

The fact is that Jersey "goodwill" has evaporated and Islanders have run out of patience with the EU and Paris, not to mention the French fishermen who can't demonstrate whether they have been fishing in our waters or not!!
This attitude should be notified to the Breton and Norman media, as well as the various political figures leading the indignant "French charge". It is disappointing that Jersey politicians have apparently failed to take such a PR initiative.

The French level of research and comprehension is totally pathetic. It is abundantly clear that they have no idea that Jersey has never been in the EU, did not vote in the Leave referendum and had its authority over local waters arbitrarily removed by the UK government. They also appear oblivious to their own fishermen cheating on their quotas!

Sometimes even a "cousin" needs a good going over.
Posted by Diana Groom on
'Excellent post by Guy de Faye.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
I agree Guy, but some, who should know better, peddle this “Jersey people are basically French” nonsense. As for Robert’s comment, if you don’t defend your sovereignty you are nothing.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
Totally agree with Guy, we should be supporting our fishermen and any attempt at retaliatory measures must be countered by a block on French products entering the Island. Yes it will be tough on some of us, but the French must learn they cannot have their cake etc.
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