Europe

‘Going to be war in the water!’ Jersey fishermen ready to fight back amid France threat

Reality of Brexit deal hitting fishermen in UK and France says expert

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France have threatened to blockade the port of Calais and UK supplies in the run-up to Christmas until the British Government gives in to demands for extra fishing licences to small French fishermen. The President of the Jersey Fishermen Association Don Thompson has warned fishermen on the island are ready to fight back any attempts from France to access the UK’s territorial waters without permission. Mr Thomson warned there is “going to be war on the water” unless immediate action is taken to make Paris back off and abide by the Brexit deal.

Mr Thomson also lamented the terms of the fishing agreement the UK struck with the European Union in December 2020.

He told Good Morning Britain: “The administrative sledgehammer from the EU came down loud and clear on the 1st of January.

“Our boats haven’t been able to land directly into France.

“It’s tough times for us and we’re still an island under siege.”

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The row erupted after the British Government confirmed last month only 12 fishing licences had been granted to French fishermen out of 47 applications.

The European Commission said last week it was seeking answers from the UK over the “limited” issue of licences to operate in British territorial waters.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday that Paris was ready to review bilateral cooperation with London if it continues to ignore the agreement reached over fishing rights in its post-Brexit trading relationship with the European Union.

Paris is infuriated by London’s refusal to grant what it considers the full number of licenses due to French fishing boats to operate in Britain’s territorial waters and is threatening retaliatory measures.

 

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Addressing members of the National Assembly earlier this week, Mr Castex said: “Great Britain does not respect its own signature!

“I say this solemnly in front of you: we will question all of the agreements reached under the supervision of the European Union.

“And also, if needs be, we will question bi-lateral collaborations that we have with the United Kingdom in multiple domains!”

European Commission spokeswoman Vivian Loonela said the bloc remains committed to finding a workable solution for both UK and EU fishermen.

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She said: “For us, finding a solution and continuity to the fishing activities of the European fishermen and women remains a top priority.

“What I can say new compared to what we had been discussing last week is that the UK has now published their methodology, and we are discussing … with the French as well as with the British and the Jersey authorities the differences regarding the rights of specific boats involved.”

Lord Frost accused France of being disingenuous over the UK’s position on fishing access.

He told a Conservative Party conference fringe event: “We have granted 98 percent of the licence applications from EU boats to fish in our waters according to the different criteria in the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, so we do not accept that we are not abiding by that agreement.

“We have been extremely generous and the French, focusing in on a small category of boats and claiming we have behaved unreasonably, I think is not really a fair reflection of the efforts we have made.”

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