A local entrepreneur whose speedboat came to blows with a French fishing boat during last month’s Harbour protest has been told that no further action will be taken against him – but he could be in trouble if he breaks the rules again.
Property developer Jonathan Ruff has received a formal letter from the Harbourmaster after an investigation took place into events on Thursday 6 May.
On that day, a large fleet of French fishing boats protested in and around the Harbour after Jersey introduced a new licensing regime to control commercial fishing in its territorial waters.
The incident attracted global coverage as one of the first serious flashpoints following the UK’s departure from the European Union at the end of last year.
During the otherwise peaceful protest, Mr Ruff was seen to be taunting the French, as the back of his vessel hit a French fishing boat.
The French boat was then caught on camera ramming into the speedboat in response.
Ports of Jersey has now concluded its investigation of the incident.
In a statement, it said: “Following a recent investigation into a collision with a French fishing vessel on Thursday 6 May, the owner of the local vessel involved has received a formal letter from Jersey’s Harbourmaster.
“The investigation was carried out by the Maritime Standards Manager who found that, although the collision was not caused by the deliberate act of either party; the provocative actions of both vessels, during which inflammatory language was used on both sides, created a close quarters situation where it only took a minor error of judgement to cause a collision.
“The local boat owner accepts the findings of the investigation together with the lessons that need to be learned in order to prevent any similar incident occurring, which could have far more serious consequences.
“The owner has been advised that while the incident has been recorded, no further action is being taken.
“However, should the local owner be found to be in breach of any future harbour regulations within the next three years, this incident may be reconsidered in deciding whether any formal enforcement action and/or prosecution would be appropriate.
“The same would be the case in the event of a further incident involving the French vessel during the same period.”
Immediately after the incident, Mr Ruff told Express that the French fishermen were “aggressive” and gestured with their hands on their throats.
“We stood our ground,” he said. “Tensions got a little bit high but that was all fine. It was from a patriotic standpoint rather than anything else.”
Mr Ruff also spoke to a number of national media at the time, including The Sun to whom he said he just "sticking up for the island and doing his patriotic duty" and The Irish Times, describing the French as the "invaders".
After the protest, the Government agreed to delay the introduction of its new licensing regime for larger fishing boats until 1 July, when it also begins for smaller boats.
It is understood that the matter is still being discussed between Jersey, the UK, France and the EU.
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