Fishing dispute reaches boiling point: French fishermen protest near Jersey, UK sends sea ships | abroad

A fleet of more than 50 French fishing boats sailed to Jersey Island this morning to campaign against the new British fishing conditions in the Channel Islands. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent two naval patrol ships to monitor the situation, and France also sent a small patrol boat. Shortly after noon the fishermen returned.


Last updated:
06-05-21, 20:38

Reuters, The Guardian, ANP, Belga

French fishermen protesting to the port of St. Helier, on the British island of Jersey, this morning. There were fears of a harbor blockade in advance, but they did not go that far. However, there was still a cargo ship that was supposed to sail from St Helier on Thursday morning. It was not clear if the ship’s captain had postponed the departure due to the dozens of fishing boats in and in front of the port.


This is not a block. Our goal is not to break things.

Hugo Lobby

Hugo Lehoubi, the representative of the Normandy Fisheries Commission who helped organize the protest, said the French fleet would not attempt to impede access to Jersey or prevent local fishermen from doing their job. “The aim is to express our dissatisfaction with the restrictive measures that have been imposed,” Lehoubi told Reuters by phone, adding that he expected the fleet to return to its port (s) by the end of the day. “This is not a blockage,” he said. “Our goal is not to destroy things.”

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After the French fishermen withdrew again, Great Britain called up its two maritime patrol ships. “We are delighted that French fishing boats have left Jersey,” Downing Street said in a statement. Now that the situation is resolved for the time being, the patrol ships of the Royal Navy are preparing to return. “

French fishing boats in the port of St. Helier in Jersey. © Marc Le Corneau via Reuters

“Rapid implementation of the agreement”

From Paris, Clement Boone, Minister of State for European Affairs, declared Thursday morning that “the British maneuvers should not impress us.” Boone said she had already consulted David Frost, the British minister responsible for relations with the European Union. “We do not want any tensions, but we do want a speedy and full implementation of the agreement.”

France had previously threatened to close the island as a “retaliatory measure”. The French naval authorities sent two ships to Jersey, a gendarmerie patrol boat and a rescue boat. They both have no weapons on board.

French fishing boats off the coast of Jersey
French fishing boats off the coast of Jersey © Agence France-Presse

List of fishing boats

The United Kingdom has published a list of 41 French fishing boats that have undergone new conditions that, according to Paris, have not been “coordinated, discussed or notified” as part of the Brexit agreement. “It is totally unacceptable,” Girardin said in Parliament on the issue this week. She fears that if France does not take action, fishermen will also be banned from other British fish-rich waters.

Johnson’s decision to send the Royal Navy to the scene will already be featured in British newspapers on Thursday.

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Even during the Brexit negotiations, one of the difficult issues was fishing rights in the canal. According to the competent French Minister Annick Girardin, the British are now introducing new access conditions for French fishermen, allowing them to work in the area for shorter periods and removing fewer species from the water.

The island of Jersey is located about 25 kilometers off the coast of Normandy. It is not a part of the United Kingdom, but a British Crown property.

Megan Vasquez

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