Jersey grants 95 post-Brexit fishing licences to French boats

Earlier this year, French fishing boats protested off Jersey over what they said were unfair restrictions

Jersey said Wednesday it has granted 95 fishing licences to French trawlers, after a row over post-Brexit access to waters around the British Crown dependency sparked protests.

The government in Saint Helier said it will issue 64 full licences and 31 temporary licences, in addition to the 47 vessels already given permission earlier this year.

A total of 75 applications were refused, it added.

The decision comes a month before the end of an interim arrangement allowing most French boats to continue operating in Jersey waters. That arrangement was introduced at the start of year, after Britain’s exit from the European Union.

All unlicensed boats must stop fishing there within 30 days, the Jersey government warned, although it will still accept and consider new evidence submitted to support applications.

“By issuing these licences in the days ahead, we are ensuring the fishing effort in our waters is similar to pre-Brexit,” said the self-governing Channel island’s Environment Minister John Young.

“Those boats with an economic dependence on Jersey waters, who’ve fished here regularly before and have demonstrated it, will receive licences.”

On Tuesday, the UK government announced that it will grant 12 out of 47 applications for new licences to small boats from the EU to fish in its territorial waters, enraging France.

London insisted it had pursued a “reasonable approach”, issuing nearly 1,700 licences to boats from the bloc to fish in Britain’s exclusive economic zone, which is defined as being 12-200 nautical miles from the coast.

But French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin called it “a new British refusal to apply the conditions” of the Brexit agreement struck by London and Brussels, stoking fears of protests.

Stormy protests by French trawlers over fishing rights in Jersey erupted earlier this year and threatened to turn into a full-blown naval incident.

As French boats steamed towards the capital Saint Helier, London sent two naval patrol boats to monitor the situation, prompting Paris to respond in kind.

In a bid to calm tempers, a three-month extension was agreed that expires this week.


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