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Warlike tensions between UK, France over Jersey fisheries subside, for now

Friday, May 7th 2021 - 09:01 UTC
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“The show of force is over – Now, it's politics that has to pick up the baton,” said Dimitri Rogoff  “The show of force is over – Now, it's politics that has to pick up the baton,” said Dimitri Rogoff

The Royal Navy late Thursday withdrew two vessels off Jersey Island, thus easing tensions with France over fishing rights and a demonstration by trawlers in demand of access to waters under a different legal status since Brexit.

HMS Severn and HMS Tamar had been sent to “monitor the situation” in “unwavering“ support for Jersey, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had put it.

”We come today because we have always fished in the waters there. We have always fished here, and then overnight, they take away all our fishing rights,“ French trawlerman Ludovic Lazaro, who was among those taking part in the demonstration, told Agence France-Presse.

Jersey is a “Crown Dependency,” meaning Britain is responsible for its defence, due to which the two Royal Navy vessels stayed some 20 kilometres apart from French warships Athos and Themis.

”Given the situation is resolved, for now, the Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels will prepare to return to port in the U.K.,“ Downing Street said Thursday in a statement. ”We remain on standby to provide any further assistance to Jersey requests.”

Dimitri Rogoff, president of the fishing association in the French Normandy region, said “the show of force is over. Now, it's politics that has to pick up the baton.”

Under Britain’s exit deal from the European Union (Brexit), French trawlers operating off Jersey for at least 10 days a year between 2017 and 2020 have the right to continue doing so in the future, but Jersey authorities have taken a very restrictive approach to prove that status, for which the French flag alone is not enough.

Ian Gorst, external relations minister for the government of Jersey, explained that “the new post-Brexit trade deal is clear that evidence had to be provided of the nature and extent of historic fishing rights.“

In retaliation, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin threatened to cut off Jersey’s electricity supply. “As far as Jersey is concerned, I would remind you, for example, of the transport of electricity by submarine cables,” Guardian had said Tuesday.

The incident may be over but the dispute is now up to London, Paris and Brussels to untie the knots of these ”technicalities.” Tensions concerning fishing are likely to continue as Britain seeks to fulfil its Brexit promise to “take back control” of its waters and borders. But it will be a tough job for the British government, now in charge of the G7 presidency and the face of global expansionism from China and Russia.

Only 41 French trawlers have so far been allowed to fish in the area out of 344 who had requested it, which triggered the deployment of some 50 boats in front of Saint Helier, the capital and main port of Jersey, which nearly constituted a de facto blockade.


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  • Islander1

    Not totally correct mercopress- its the Goivt of jersey which is 100% responsible for what goes on and by whom in its Fishing Zone- so discussions are between Jersey and the French Fishermen or their Fisheries Dept- as they have been - how have 2/3rds of the French boats who normally fish there already got signed up?. London of course kept informed and able to offer advice.
    French senior politician DAMN stupid to threaten the power supply- and the “other” French fishing boats to threaten to close the port - UK had no option but to respond.
    To clarify the 20k distance of the French Navy patrol vessels- they actually by Int Law had to keep outside Jersey Territorial Waters!

    May 07th, 2021 - 10:43 am 0
  • Pugol-H

    You always know with the French, the louder and more threatening they are, the more in the wrong they are and know it.

    The issue here is actually quite simple, despite what the Frogs would have you believe, under the terms of the agreement, for a licence to keep fishing in Jersey waters up to 3 miles/UK 6-12 mile zone, the application has to have supporting data from the EU in the form of sat nav logs and catch records. Which they are REQUIRED to submit to the EU for all fishing activities.

    For some totally inexplicable reason, the supporting data does not seem to be there.

    So either they didn’t fish there at all, or worse they broke all the rules and didn’t log it and now they are found out.

    There are dispute resolution mechanisms in the agreement for this sort of thing, however you will notice at no point will it be mentioned by the French in fact it will be avoided at all costs.

    In the event of their being any ‘retaliations’, barring all French boats from all UK waters, permanently, will soon bring them back into line.

    I someone said, ‘it’s a shame they didn’t show this kind of spirit in 1940’

    In this instance the agreement is between the UK and EU and dealt with by them, the Fishermen submit the application to the European Commission who forward to London with the data (or not) who sent it to Jersey for approval, then all the way back.

    The Jersey Gov only spoke directly to the French Fishermen yesterday, still no explanation from the Frogs about the missing data and the Jersey Gov restated they would not issue licences without it, as per the terms of the agreement.

    May 07th, 2021 - 03:12 pm 0
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