Von der Leyen accuses Boris Johnson of breaching Brexit trade deal in Jersey fishing row

Jersey: French fishermen 'want talks' over rights says reporter

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The European Commission said the new restrictions on trawlermen introduced by Jersey contravene the terms of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Under the post-Brexit rules, EU vessels are required to secure licences to operate in the waters off the coast of the Channel island. EU officials have thrown their weight behind France’s threat to plunge the isle into darkness by cutting its power supply.

A Commission spokeswoman said: “Any addition of new specific conditions to these fishing authorisations that limit EU fishing activities in UK waters must comply with the objectives and principles set out in the TCA, which are based on clear scientific rationale.

“Any such conditions must also be non-discriminatory between UK and EU vessels.”

She added: “The Commission has clearly indicated to the UK that the provisions of the EU-UK TCA have not been respected.

“Until the UK authorities provide further justifications on the new conditions, these new conditions should not apply. 

“The Commission remains in close contact with France and the UK on the matter.”

It comes after dozens of french boats and two Royal Navy patrol ships arrived at Jersey’s main port this morning.

HMS Severn and HMS Tamar were deployed to keep watch over around 60 vessels carrying unruly French fishermen threatening to blockade the port.

Jersey has been asked to give licences to 41 French vessels to fish off the isle’s coastline.

But its government has claimed 17 had been unable to prove they had historical links to the fishing grounds as required under the Brexit deal.

It has also placed restrictions on how long some of the boats could fish in Jersey waters as well as the type of equipment they could use.

This has provoked a furious response from fishermen from Normand and Breton.

Josh Dearing, 28, a Jersey fishermen, said it was “like an invasion”.

He added: “The French being the French, they don’t mess around. They can blockade their own harbours — they wouldn’t think twice about coming and doing it to us.

“There were probably about 60 boats. There were a few handheld flares and smoke flares going off and apparently a few maybe bangers and stuff going off from the French.

“It was quite a sight. It was impressive, I looked from the shore this morning and it was just like a sea of red lights and flares already going off at sea. It was like an invasion.”

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France has also dispatched to the region to watch over the protesting fishing boats.

A former head of the Royal Navy claimed it is unlikely that the two British gunboats would open fire on the demonstrators.

Baron West of Spithead said marines may instead board vessels, arrest those involved and impound the boats.

He told Times Radio: “That is normally the thing that makes fishermen be very careful.

“It is extremely expensive and a catastrophic thing. But let’s hope we don’t get to that.”

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Jersey authorities are under pressure to maintain their hardline approach on French fishing boats.

Local fishermen said they will “fish without licences” if the Government bows to French demands.

Dan Thompson, of the local Jersey fishermen’s association, said: “We’ve already told our minister – our licences, some of our fishermen have paid a quarter of a million pounds for our licences – we’re going to get rid of our licences and fish without licences.

“We just will not put up with those boats being left to fish uncontrolled, unsustainably in our waters, whilst we’re subject to all sorts of constraints.”

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