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Normandy and La Manche ties to remain severed 'indefinitely'

Normandy and La Manche ties to remain severed 'indefinitely'

Monday 10 May 2021

Normandy and La Manche ties to remain severed 'indefinitely'


Jersey's official tie with the Normandy and La Manche region will remain severed until the issues around the fishing licences issued by Jersey are resolved, with a senior French figure claiming: “We won’t budge because we are certain we are within our rights."

Chair Jean-Marc Julienne said he wanted to reopen the Maison de la Normandie et de la Manche, which also houses the Honorary French Consulate, as soon as possible but was not able to give a date as to when that will happen.

His comments came just hours before the French formally closed the ports of Carteret, Dielette and Granville to Jersey fishermen - something Jersey claiming was a breach of the UK-EU Brexit deal.

The closure of the Maison de la Normandie was announced in a joint statement issued last Monday night with the President of the Normandy Region Hervé Morin and the President of La Manche Council Marc Lefèvre, as a way of demonstrating their “incomprehension and discontent” at the new permit system.

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Pictured: Assistant Minister Gregory Guida (on the Norman Le Brocq) spoke to French officials on the Normandy Trader on Thursday.

It came after the French officials became aware that Jersey was imposing, “against expectations,” a number of what they termed “inexplicable conditions:" a limit on the number of days for fishing (seven to 170 depending on the boat), restrictions on types of fishing vessels and the closure of certain areas, when Jersey published a list of the 41 vessels that had received their licences last Friday.

Emergency talks took place on Thursday between Assistant Minister Gregory Guida and French officials after roughly 70 French boats entered St. Helier harbour in protest over the restrictions

Deputy Guida said the talks had been friendly with “no animosity whatsoever”. 

“Today’s demonstration was an understandable show of intent and solidarity from a large part of the Bay of Granville fleet,” he said.

“They had perfectly legitimate grievances and they simply wanted someone to solve them.”

Following the talks, it was decided to re-establish a liaison committee with French and Jersey fishermen, and their administrations, to allow ongoing discussions, as was possible under the old Bay of Granville Agreement.

“I wouldn’t say the issue is over but we have a new level of understanding and the important thing is that the French fishermen now have our number and can talk to us directly,” he said.

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Pictured: Mr Julienne chairs the Maison de Normandie and La Manche and is is a Department Advisor for the district of Granville district.

Mr Julienne, who is a Department Advisor for the district of Granville district, which is the largest port on the west coast, rejected Deputy Guida’s suggestion that the issue was down to “communication problems”. 

“Saying that is just deflecting the blame onto others,” he told Express. “What I want to know is how many civil servants in Jersey are dealing with this? If Jersey’s Government want to show their clear concern in the issue, they need to put the necessary practical resources into it so that a solution can be found in the next few days, because if there are only two civil servants checking this, it might take a while. 

“I am convinced that if the list is given, it won’t be too hard… There are people who know the boats who come in Jersey waters…we have maps, there are systems that can tell you where a boat is to the square centimetre so don’t tell me Jersey doesn’t have the means, otherwise they will need to get some money, or not even as it’s free. I am exaggerating a bit, but I am really infuriated that we can’t find solutions when they are there.

“Obviously, it does take time, but I do feel right now that both the European Commission and the countries want this to be resolved. If everyone genuinely wants to resolve the issue, I don’t see why it can’t be done quickly.”

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Pictured: “We want to find a long-term solution to this issue that is polluting our relationship," Mr Julienne said.

Mr Julienne explained that French fishermen want the licences for the boats over and under 12 metres to be dealt with in the same way. While the former have Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) to show their location, the French official says phone data can be used for the latter.  

“We want to find a long-term solution to this issue that is polluting our relationship, I personally don’t want the Franco-British relationships to be permanently tarnished,” he said. 

“I want our relationship to endure and improve again, I want us to do more things together, but we need to give ourselves the means for that, and that includes the issue of the 12 meter boats, under and over, if we can’t find a permanent solution to this, we won’t be able to move on.

“It’s not that hard, in the era of technology and mobile telephones, on the basis of healthy and mutually good relationships. It would be unbelievable to say we can’t deal with the licences for the under 12 metres at the same times as the ones for the over 12 metres.”

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Pictured: The President of La Manche Council Marc Lefèvre speaking to the External Relations Minister on Wednesday.

Turning to when the Maison de la Normandie et de la Manche might reopen, Mr Julienne said he wanted it to be as soon as possible but said it was closed until further notice.

“It is useful to French people who want to come to Jersey, who want to come and present their produce, who want to do a twinning. All the cultural, sporting, economic and obviously, we see that now, political actions are useful and the Maison de la Normandie et de la Manche is very helpful in that,” he said. 

“I can’t give a date. You need to remember even if it’s just an anecdotal that it serves as the office for the honorary consul." 

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Lefèvre said the topic could only be discussed again once the current issues had been resolved, despite calls from External Relations Minister Senator Ian Gorst for the Maison to reopen. 

On Twitter, Senator Gorst characterised the discussions as "good", while Mr Lefèvre snapped back that he felt the discussions had only highlighted that Jersey's relationship with France was "seriously damaged", that the island had broken the Brexit deal, and that he was now questioning the fishing arrangements with Jersey stretching back more than 100 years.

In the meantime, Mr Julienne said contact was still ongoing with Jersey with him and Mr Lefèvre standing their grounds. He rejected the view, he says some people in Jersey and the UK hold, that French people “show their muscles but do nothing in the end”.and we want to keep on working with the Channel Islands,” he said. “History is in favour of firmness.” 

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Posted by Michael Du Pré on
Unfortunately, now that Boris Johnson has milked his election benefit by confirming his Brexit done deal oven ready payback benefits by sending our gunboats in order to get dog whistle headlines as to British global greatness in the tabloids, l am certain he will lose interest in this matter.
Posted by John Henwood on
I can't help feeling if the Channel Islands and French fishermen were allowed to sit around a table with a bottle or two of vin ordinaire and a few beers they would be able, with compromise on both sides, to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, life's not like that and politicians will continue to tub thump and stand on their dignity and we won't see a satisfactory resolution for a very long time.
Posted by Davey West on
It appears that French representative is " lets be nice " a little non factual in his appraisal of the situation. According to reports 41 French boats from a total of 340 having been given licences based on French data submitted. The Jersey fleet took just four days " says Don Thomson " to supply the French with the Jersey fishing boats data but not one licence to fish in French waters has been allocated to any Jersey boat. Furher more, blocking a foreign port and refusing to land legal catches is hardly the actions of a country that wants diplomacy and resolution. The Jersey fisherman value and respect they're hard won licences with terms and conditions attached. If Jerseys Government allows conditions to be removed to appease the French then hypocrisy and weak Government will afflict Jersey yet again making Jersey not only look weak but also stupid.
Posted by Martin J on
If our French neighbour,s are certain that they are within their rights to fish in Jersey waters MAYBE we should concede this and agree that they can, provided we can fish accordingly in theirs as surely THAT is by virtue of their values - ----> OUR RIGHT?
Posted by Martyn Anderson on
What is the point of issuing a fishing licence for just 7 days? These are professional fishermen, not week end hobbyists. We should just issue licences to fish for what ever specified species are in season.
While the French continue their disgraceful bullying threats, and until licences are settled, we should protect out fishermen who cannot land their catch with a subsidy to keep themselves and their vessels until their markets in Normandy are opened up again.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
I bet this is a real wake up call to those in the Island who claim “we are French” and the “we love France” brigade.
Posted by Scott Mills on
With Jersey's reputation and previous, this will be sorted about as quick at Fort Regent, Hospital and skate park (ready by Paris 2024 is my estimate). Day trippers to st.malo beware, plus watch your cars around st.malo and surrounding areas.
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