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Jersey extends licences for EU fishing boats

Jersey extends licences for EU fishing boats
A flotilla of fishing boats are berthed along river Liffey during a Brexit protest to increase the share of fishing quotas in Irish waters, in Dublin, Ireland, June 23, 2021. REUTERS-Clodagh Kilcoyne

The government of Jersey, a self-governing Channel Island between France and Britain, said Monday that it had extended a transitional fishing agreement with the European Union allowing EU boats to continue operating in its waters for three months.

“The EU has recently requested an extension to the transitional arrangements, which had been due to come to an end on 30 June,” a statement from the Jersey government said, adding that “Jersey ministers have agreed to that request.”

Jersey lies just off France’s northern coast and access to its rich waters has become a source of friction since Britain’s departure from the EU on January 1 tore up arrangements for fishing in the Channel.

To gain new licences, Jersey has insisted that EU boats hand over proof that they have been operating in its waters previously.

The extension “will allow more time for further track record evidence to be submitted and analysed, and for technical matters to be worked through,” according to the statement.

French fishermen have complained that the process is deliberately slow and say that many smaller boats are not equipped with GPS and satellite systems that can be used to provide evidence of their past trips.

French trawlers briefly encircled the main port on Jersey on May 6 as part of a protest, leading to a standoff that saw Britain send two naval boats that were shadowed by French coastal patrol vessels.

Jersey, which as a crown dependency relies on Britain for defence, has also been alarmed by recent political rhetoric in France which saw a minister threaten to cut off the island’s electricity supplies if no fishing deal was found.

“The relationship with France is hugely important to Jersey in so many ways,” Jersey’s minister for external relations, Ian Gorst, said in the statement.

“We know aspects of that relationship have been difficult recently, but want to ensure we work through the issues, fulfilling the terms of the TCA (Trade and Cooperation Agreement) and ensuring the sustainability of fishing in our waters.”

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