Jersey is granting three out of four fishing licences requested by France – but this appears to have failed to avert Paris taking retaliatory action.
From tomorrow, 162 French vessels will be permitted to fish in Jersey’s territorial waters – a 70% increase on the 95 boats that were given full or temporary licences at the end of the last month.
Tomorrow, the 30-day notice period that followed the 28 September announcement comes to an end.
Since then, Jersey has received more evidence of past fishing activity, as specified in the trade deal agreed last December by the UK and EU, which has allowed it to increase the number of full licences from 65 to 113, and the number of temporary licences – which last until the end of January – from 31 to 49.
As a consequence, the number of French boats on the island's ‘red list’ – boats which will not be issued a licence so cannot fish around Jersey from Sunday – has fallen from 75 to 55.
This means that out of the 217 licences requested by France, 162 will be able to fish until at least the end of January – 75% of the total.
Despite this, the French government announced on Thursday that it would be taking retaliatory measures against the UK and Jersey.
The first round of measures, beginning on Tuesday, include increasing customs and sanitary checks on imported British goods, banning the landing of British-caught seafood, and carrying out extra checks on trucks going to and from the UK.
France said it was preparing for a second round of measures, which could include restricting the supply of electricity to Jersey and Guernsey.
Maritime Minister Annick Girardin clarified in an interview with RTL this morning that such restrictions would, at first, come in the form of tariffs.
Les 4 mesures de rétorsion seront mises en place à compter du 2 novembre à l'encontre des Britanniques. Disproportionnées ? Elles ne le sont pas. Nous défendons nos droits, nos pêcheurs et notre littoral.— Annick Girardin (@AnnickGirardin) October 28, 2021
Quand on appose sa signature au bas d'un accord, on le respecte. #RTLMatin pic.twitter.com/r18VQ3njhP
Today, External Relations Minister Ian Gorst reiterated his statement of last night, saying he was “extremely disappointed” at the French government’s announcement.
In a new statement this morning, made with Environment Minister John Young, who has responsibility for issuing licences, the politicians said: “Yesterday morning, Government of Jersey officers met officials from France, the UK and the European Commission, and made further progress on the outstanding applications from French vessels for licences to fish in Jersey’s territorial waters.
“The outcome of that meeting was that 162 French vessels will be licensed to fish in Jersey’s territorial waters from this Friday.
“Of the 162 licences, 113 are permanent (categorised as “Green”) and 49 will be issued as temporary (“Orange”). Vessels that receive a temporary licence will be able to fish in Jersey waters until 31 January 2022, to give them time to provide further data which is necessary to secure a permanent licence. Jersey officials have agreed to examine in detail additional evidence that has been provided by French authorities in the last week.
“Currently there are 55 vessels in a third (“Red”) category that will not have a licence to fish in Jersey waters after 31 October. The door remains open for further data to be submitted, and new applications that meet the criteria under the TCA can be submitted at any time.
“Since our announcement on the 29th September, outlining vessel numbers in the three licensing categories, more evidence has been provided which has enabled the following changes:
They continued: “This demonstrates Jersey’s responsive approach to assessing all the data it receives. This is a complex, evidence-based process, and we will continue to approach it with good faith.
“We have made ourselves available for further clarification and discussion when needed.
“Jersey has drawn upon the material provided by the EU, as well as the Government of Jersey’s own records, supplemented by commercially available information, to license every vessel for which evidence of a qualifying track record can be found.
“We will continue to work closely with French authorities, the UK and the EU Commission – in accordance with the trade agreement – to ensure that vessels which are entitled to a permanent licence are able to receive one and can continue fishing in Jersey’s territorial waters in accordance with their historic track record.”
Meanwhile, in the House of Commons today, UK Environment Secretary George Eustice said he fully supported Jersey's approach to licensing.
He was responding to an urgent question after the French detained a British trawler and fined another off Le Havre overnight.
Mr Eustice said he was "urgently" investigating what happened.
Today's action by France to detain a UK fishing boat is extremely concerning, especially to the people of the Channel Islands following blockades earlier this year. In @HouseofCommons I asked for assurances that we will always stand by the Crown Dependencies. @Ian_Gorst pic.twitter.com/1ncOTV0Bpm— Rob Butler (@RobBAylesbury) October 28, 2021
French Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin - who previously threatened to cut Jersey's electricity supply - said that one of the UK boats had been stopped in the Bay of Seine without a proper licence.
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