France’s Minister of the Sea has renewed her demand for Jersey to back down in the fishing crisis, while French fishers want to meet President Emmanuel Macron to discuss potential “retaliatory measures."
In a letter sent this week, Annick Girardin reminded Jersey’s External Relations Minister Senator Ian Gorst that her country considers conditions forming part of the island’s new system for controlling its waters after Brexit “null and void."
She also “vigorously” called for “the end of this type of control, even if it’s carried out in a professional way”, according to Ouest-France.
The heated correspondence came in direct response to an investigation launched by Jersey’s Government last week into a Granville trawler suspected of illegally plundering protected island waters.
The Alizé 3 was chased away from the north of the island by Jersey’s maritime police vessel, the Norman Le Brocq, on Tuesday morning.
Pictured: The route taken by the Alizé 3. (Marine Traffic)
The 16m x 6m French trawler had been spotted moving up and down for several hours around a zone currently closed off for research into stocks of sea bream.
Ms Girardin wrote that the European Commission had not been given sufficient notice about the intention to close off this zone and demanded that Senator Gorst “transmit all information justifying the establishment of this restricted zone.”
The UK-EU Brexit deal says that fishing restrictions can only be imposed if they are not discriminatory and there is a good scientific reason for them.
Environment Minister Deputy John Young previously said that the bream study followed concerns from local fishermen that stocks of the “very valuable” fish were declining due to overfishing.
“There have been complaints about dredging through those areas that have caused damage and so, a proposal was put to the French, last year I believe, to have those areas closed for a short period to allow their study to take place,” he said.
Pictured: Vessels are not allowed to tow or use mobile gear in the three numbered zones due to sea bream research currently underway there.
The UK Government sent a letter to the European Commission setting out Jersey’s response to allegations that it broke the Brexit deal on 8 May. A spokesperson for the European Commission – whose Fisheries Committee met behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss the island – told Express it is preparing its reply.
As a gesture of “good faith”, the island has given Norman and Breton fishers more time to get their paperwork in order to ensure that any issues with their new licences can be resolved. They have until 1 July.
Guernsey, which has not been caught in the diplomatic row, this week announced it would be doing the same.
Jersey had previously blamed the lengthy communications route via Paris, London and Brussels for any issues with the licences issued to French fishers. Following the protest at St. Helier Harbour, it was suggested that a direct line should be set up between Jersey and France. However, this idea was shot down by M. Girardin and the Norman and Breton regional fishing committees.
Pictured: A scene from the protest earlier this month.
Increasing upset over Jersey and London’s stance on fishing has seen matters escalated to the National Fishing Committee, which says there is now “climate of total exasperation” along the coast.
On Wednesday, the committee requested a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron “to examine all the levers that are available to us, both on a political level (ongoing negotiations regarding other sectors like energy) and legal one (retaliatory measures”, with an ultimate goal of forcing the “strict” application of the Brexit deal.
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