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Jersey offers amnesty extension in effort to resolve fishing dispute

Jersey offers amnesty extension in effort to resolve fishing dispute

Monday 28 June 2021

Jersey offers amnesty extension in effort to resolve fishing dispute


Jersey's Government has offered to extend the transition period allowing certain French vessels to continue to fish in island waters to the end of September.

Ministers hope the three-month extension will satisfy the EU and calm a stormy dispute over the ability of French boats to fish in Jersey’s territorial waters.

Environment Minister John Young was tight-lipped last week on the possibility of an extension but this has now been agreed. 

This friction over fishing rights received worldwide attention at the beginning of May when a fleet of around 70 boats from neighbouring French ports demonstrated outside St. Helier Harbour. 

The fishermen were protesting about new licences that had been issued by Jersey, defining what, where and when they could catch fish within the Island’s 12-mile territorial limit.

Under the terms of the post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU, Jersey became responsible for managing its own waters, ending a previous shared management arrangement that had been defined in the Bay of Granville Agreement, signed in 2000.

Following the signing of the trade agreement last December, an interim arrangement was agreed at the start of this year to permit French fishing boats holding a previous Granville Bay licence to operate in Jersey waters while the new licence system was being established. 

The trade deal requires evidence of the “extent and nature” of previous fishing activity to be demonstrated in order for access to be granted.

A Government spokesman said that, in recent weeks, Jersey, the UK, France and EU officials had been in “intensive discussions” over the implementation of the trade deal to prevent further disruption and ensure the sustainability of fishing in the area. 

“The EU has recently requested an extension to the transitional arrangements, which had been due to come to an end on 30 June,” he said. 

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Pictured: The Royal Navy sent two small warships to the Island to monitor May's protest by French fishermen. 

“Jersey ministers have agreed to that request, for those vessels which the EU has submitted applications on behalf of, which will allow more time for further track record evidence to be submitted and analysed, and for technical matters to be worked through.

“In parallel to the extension, Jersey ministers wish to see real progress in the weeks ahead. 

Jersey has therefore requested the EU submits further evidence for existing applications by the end of July, including whether the vessels held Normandy permits. 

“Ministers have also requested confirmation that the three applicant Jersey vessels can reciprocally operate in EU waters, and called on the EU to ensure Jersey vessels are able to continue landing catch into French ports, under the terms of the trade deal.”

The spokesperson added that, from 1 July, the revised transitional arrangements would allow the 47 boats with onboard tracking equipment that are already licensed to continue to fish in Jersey’s waters.

Also allowed would be the 177 smaller EU boats that have applied for a licence, for which evidence is currently being submitted.

Until the end of September, licence conditions around “number of days” and the “gear” used would remain suspended, he said.

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Pictured: External Relations Minister Ian Gorst: "We are offering this extension to the amnesty period to allow the continuation of constructive discussions".

External Relations Minister Ian Gorst, said: “Jersey welcomes the engagement on both a technical and political level with the UK, EU and France on resolving the complex and challenging issues around fishing.

“The relationship with France is hugely important to Jersey in so many ways. We know aspects of that relationship have been difficult recently, but want to ensure we work through the issues, fulfilling the terms of the trade deal and ensuring the sustainability of fishing in our waters.

“We are offering this extension to the amnesty period to allow the continuation of constructive discussions. Work to establish how to translate the ‘extent and nature’ provision of the trade agreement into licensing must continue apace, it is an important element of the agreement and we must all recognise it has genuine meaning.”

The full list of qualifying boats will be published on the UK Single Issuing Authority website.

Environment Minister John Young, said: “I hope this extra time will allow real progress and we have included certain steps along the way over the next few months to ensure the situation moves forward at a greater rate, which will benefit all fishermen.

“We urge French and EU authorities to ensure all data has been sent through during the next few weeks. We must guarantee fishing in the Island’s waters is sustainable, while being compliant with the terms of the trade deal.”

It seems likely that a three-month extension will satisfy the French. Speaking to Le Figaro last week, a spokesman for the country's Ministry of the Sea said France was seeking a delay to the end of September, which would bring "visibility to fishermen and give time for negotiation". 

Responding to the news from Jersey, Annick Girardin, France’s Minister of the Sea, tweeted: “Jersey has finally accepted the three-month extension of provisional licences. A breath of fresh air for our fishermen. Our goal now: to continue to protect their rights and ensure that they can continue their activity beyond 30 September.”

Last week, Jersey’s Government announced a package of financial measures to support Jersey’s fishing industry, which will provide funding for fixed costs and salaries incurred between this May and August and will be available to businesses that are directly involved in activity related to fisheries.

On Monday, Senator Ian Gorst met with João Vale de Almeida, Head of the EU Delegation in the UK. 

The Government said that the pair had had a constructive discussion about Jersey’s latest interim arrangement concerning EU fishers in Jersey waters. 

“Both agreed this was a useful arrangement to provide extra time for the ongoing talks between Jersey, the EU, the UK and France to reach a satisfactory conclusion. It confirms the longstanding close relationship between the EU and Jersey,” a statement said.

 

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Posted by Ted 3Please on
Oh yeah, that’ll show ‘em that we’re not to be trifled with.....
Posted by Martin on
If we are now responsible for administering our JERSEY waters WHY do we need to let anyone other than Jersey fisher PERSONS to utilise them?

Also if we are to be reasonable which is a better idea, why not offer our very rational French neighbours a ratio of licences EG 100 French can fish in our waters if 50 Jersey can fish in the French waters & see how they react!
Posted by nigel pearce on
Martin: good thinking.
I was of a mind to suggest that only a certain number of French vessels be allowed into our waters and then obligated to stick to our fishing rules re trawling etc.
Posted by SimonBevens28 on
So once again our 'leaders' are being like wet fish. Scared stupid of holding a line, they will just keep extending the free for all ad infinitum. Pathetic, if not unexpected.
Posted by Roy Dean on
Appeasement

If documentation hasn't been submitted over the last 6 months then it doesn't exist

The French do not mention documentation only negotiation

Weak Govt only serves the needs of the Agressor....and not the Jersey population nor the future of Jersey fishing
Posted by Davey West on
Asked by friends in the UK what the likely outcome will be when the French boats " visited " I said our weak leaders will give in they only care about the finance industry. I do hope I am wrong but the signs are not good. Full of scripted words about sustainability and fisheries resource management in the media and then the politicians let all a sundry from France help themselves. Unbelievable but expected. If it was their livelihoods it would be a different story.
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