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Thawing relations? Lions’ £150k cryochamber finally on the move from France

Thawing relations? Lions’ £150k cryochamber finally on the move from France

Friday 14 May 2021

Thawing relations? Lions’ £150k cryochamber finally on the move from France

Friday 14 May 2021


A £150,000 cryotherapy chamber due to be used by professional rugby players visiting Jersey next month is finally on the move from France as chilly relations over fishing rights appear to thaw.

Jersey’s cargo-carrying Normandy Trader was able to access the port of Granville this morning, collecting the specialist chamber and an immersion pool destined for new sports complex Strive.

Their delivery to the island was due to happen last week, but had been held up as a result of the row over Jersey’s new regime for controlling fishing in its waters after Brexit.

As tensions escalated following last week’s protests, the Conseil Départemental de la Manche made an official order last Friday to freeze freight to the island and prevent Jersey fishermen from landing their catch in Normandy.

While the order was repealed on Monday after Jersey put the scheme on ice until 1 July as a gesture of “good faith”, shipping difficulties remained and Strive was left investigating an alternative delivery route via the UK.

But today, the equipment due to be used by the British and Irish Lions during their Jersey training camp was finally on the move.

Pictured: "The Normandy Trader returns! The boat has this morning taken the cargo needing to be shipped from Granville to Jersey, with the rugby players' famous cryotherapy chamber and pools on board," tweets Ouest-France journalist Marie Carof-Gadel.

Blocking the movement of goods to and from Jersey is just one of the ways France has threatened to retaliate if the island doesn’t back down in what’s been dubbed by national media as the “war of the whelks”.

French Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin previously threatened to pull the plug on Jersey’s electricity supply, and is now reportedly backing a plan to block the island and UK from selling their financial services products in EuropeFinance makes up more than a third of Jersey’s economy, with a value of more than a £1bn.

The official spokesperson for Boris Johnson, who last week sent Royal Navy patrol boats to watch over French protestors at Jersey's harbour, responded yesterday: "We are taking a consistent, evidence-based approach to licensing EU vessels using information supplied by the European Commission. 

"This is another example of the EU issuing threats at any sign of difficulties instead of using the mechanisms of our new treaty to solve problems.

"We have always been clear that an agreement on financial services is in the best interests of both sides."

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Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has blasted the 'fish for finance' threat.

Under the Brexit treaty, disputes should be resolved via an arbitration panel. If the offending party doesn’t agree with the panel’s ruling, only then can sanctions be applied. 

The new fishing permits issued by Jersey at the end of April include conditions, such as number of days at sea and type of catch, which have caused fury among fishermen. 

The European Commission has agreed with France’s claim that these conditions are against the terms of the UK-EU trade deal and been firm that “until the UK authorities provide further justifications on the new conditions, these new conditions should not apply.”

It said that conditions should only be applied if they are non-discriminatory and based on scientific evidence relating to the sustainability of stocks. 

In a meeting with Granville fishers and authorities earlier this week, French MEP and Fisheries Committee Member Stéphanie Yon-Courtin said: “Jersey is a tax haven. The island needs to obtain an equivalence [official recognition that it has the correct status to trade, ed.] to sell its financial products in Europe. Now, we’re thinking about vastly limiting the issuing of these equivalences.”

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Pictured: The protest in Jersey's waters last Thursday.

The Brexit deal didn’t include financial services, though Britain and the EU have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that is yet to be formally ratified by its 27 members, including France.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s official spokesperson said last weekend that nothing was off the table in terms of punitive action against Jersey. 

While the Granville block on freight has been lifted, Express understands local vessels are still not carrying lobster and crab to Saint Malo in Brittany over concerns about the animosity they will face at the port.

Jersey's 1 July extension to allow French fishers to get their paperwork in order still hasn’t been enough to appease Mme. Girardin, who on Wednesday called on the European Commissioner for Fisheries to step in and suspend Jersey’s new licensing regime. 

She also wants direct lines of communication between the Government and French fishermen to cease, despite it being one of the resolutions agreed between the two sides during talks in St. Helier Harbour last Thursday, when a large fleet of French boats sailed to the island to protest.

Jersey undertook to set up a hotline for French fishermen to provide informal information about their past fishing activities. This was established this week and it is understood that a number of French fishermen have called.

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Pictured: Following last week's protest, Jersey's Government agreed to liaise directly with French fishers to resolve concerns over its new fishing regime - something France's Minister of the Sea now wants to stop.

Reacting to the 1 July extension, Political representative for the La Manche region Bertrand Sorre commented: "We need to make the most of this delay to secure a definitive victory and allow our fishermen to continue with their historic activity."

Pictured: The cryotherapy chamber and plunge pool destined for use by the British and Irish Lions (Head Coach Warren Gatland, inset) were still sitting at a dock in Granville yesterday, but are now on the move. (Marie Carof-Gadel/Ouest-France)

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