UK, France send patrol boats to Jersey amid fishing rights

UK, France send patrol boats to Jersey amid fishing rights

The UK and France have sent patrol boats to the British island of Jersey amid a growing dispute over fishing rights after Brexit.
French trawler crews angry at restrictions on their access to British fishing grounds after the latter left the European Union traveled to Jersey in a flotilla in the early hours of Thursday to register their protest.

A website that tracks shipping traffic showed that around 25 French-registered ships were soon after near Jersey’s main port at St Helier. Part of the French flotilla entered the port of the port during their demonstration.

The UK said it had sent two Navy gunboats to “monitor the situation” in the waters surrounding the island in response.

France in turn reacted to the UK’s decision, sending two of its own maritime patrol boats to the region.

The French navy said the ships were deployed on the orders of French civilian authorities.

He did not give details of what they would do in the waters off Jersey, which is 14 miles off the northern coast of France and 140 miles south of the UK coast.

The ship tracking website showed one of two French ships, the Athos, located about 12 miles southeast of Jersey.

It was at least 12 miles from the two British Navy ships, HMS Severn and HMS Tamar, which were on the southwest side of the island.

Natacha Butler from Al Jazeera, reporting aboard a French fishing vessel at the scene, said disagreements between the UK and France over post-Brexit fishing rights that had been booming for weeks were now in in the process of “escalating”, both parties “raising the rhetoric”.

France has warned it could cut electricity to Jersey amid the ongoing dispute, a threat the UK has called “unacceptable”.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on Thursday called for calm over the dispute.

‘This is not a blockade’

Thursday’s showdown came after the Jersey government said the island had issued new fishing licenses, which included new conditions for license holders, in line with post-Brexit trade terms between the UK and the EU.

As part of the trade agreement negotiated between London and Brussels, Jersey must allow European ships to enter its waters.

But the new fishing permits issued by the British dependency angered French trawler crews and the French government, who said the new conditions had been imposed unilaterally and without discussion and imposed unfair restrictions on vessels from French fishing.

A representative of the Normandy Regional Fishing Committee, which helped organize Thursday’s protest, said the French flotilla would not seek to obstruct access to Jersey ports or prevent local fishing vessels from operating.

“The aim is to express our dissatisfaction with the restrictive measures that have been imposed,” Representative Hugo Lehuby told Reuters by telephone.

“It’s not a blockade,” he said. “Our goal is not to break things.” He said he expected the flotilla to return to its home ports by the end of Thursday.

Butler of Al Jazeera said the “livelihoods” of protest participants were at stake.

“French fishermen here say they can only survive if they regain access to these waters,” she added. “They are angry, frustrated and upset.”

Jersey government officials, who say the new fishing restrictions are in line with post-Brexit trade deals, said they would meet with representatives of the protesters on Thursday to hear their concerns.


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