Pack it in, Emmanuel! French fishermen turn on Macron as Brexit battle with UK backfires

Brexit: EU making Jersey fishing deals difficult says Thompson

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It comes as Jersey’s External Relations Minister Ian Gorst travelled to Paris for crunch talks with French Sea Minister Annick Girardin, Maros Sefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius. On Tuesday afternoon, tense technical discussions took place between both sides with UK Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis also present at meetings.

Ms Girardin warned “retaliatory measures” would be put forward if St Helier were not forthcoming in granting the 73 outstanding licences.

France has set a Monday, November 1 deadline for Jersey officials to give their responses to outstanding access requests and apply the terms of the post-Brexit accord hammered out last year.

The French government threatened to curb electricity supplies to the Channel island if no progress was made, but the European Union has not been eager to inflame tensions with any form of retaliatory measures against the UK. 

The French Minister added on Tuesday: “The idea is good to move forward together but my message remains the same.

“France and the European Union remain mobilized in order to obtain the desired licences, in accordance with the agreement of Brexit. 

“I want my licences back.”

Eric Leguelinel, vice president of the Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee who was refused a fishing licence by Jersey said the move to refuse access was “pure provocation”.

He said: “I have been fishing for lobster longer than most of the guys on the island. I have a boat over 12 meters with a geolocation system. 

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“This refusal of my file was a pure provocation.”

But he made clear: “We can perfectly accuse Jersey of not negotiating in good faith but we must be careful because we are only talking about the allocation of licences, not yet fishing rights.”

Mr Leguelinel said if the retaliatory measures put forward by Paris were “too violent” then French fishermen would “pay for it in five years” at the end of the current transition period when European fishermen will have to give up 25 percent of their catches in British waters.

Meanwhile, trawlermen Pascal Delacour claimed, “Brexit reshuffled the cards” for the French fishing industry stressing Jersey ministers had “gone too far” when refusing licences. 

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However, Mr Delacour said France had “played its part badly” with little or no communication with the fishing industry on the post-Brexit regulations. 

He continued: “Nothing is clear and the [French] government has not even been able to send an administrative to translate the incomprehensible English documents that Jersey sends us.

“I am a fisherman, I am not an Oxford graduate “.

Mr Gorst said the meetings were an “opportunity to reset relations” between Paris, St Helier and London and “reinstate cooperation for the benefit of both fishing communities.”

Fishing rights for EU boats in UK waters were a key stumbling block to negotiations for EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which Jersey has agreed to follow when issuing post-Brexit fishing licences. 

The dispute flared in May when a flotilla of around 50 French trawlers massed in front of the Saint Helier harbour in Jersey.

The protest sparked a tense standoff that even drew in French and British military vessels.

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