Independence ‘final nail in the coffin’ for fishing says fisherman
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More than 100 French vessels are preparing to sail to the capital St Helier today to protest. It comes after France threatened to cut off Jersey’s electricity supply and shut down the Channel Island. The Prime Minister said that “any blockade would be completely unjustified”. He has sent two Offshore Patrol Vessels to the island, which receives 95 per cent of its electricity from France via underwater cables. French officials have also said they will close their offices in Jersey and stop products entering France.
Two Offshore Patrol Vessels are being sent to the Channel Island.
The Royal Navy confirmed HMS Severn was deployed to Jersey last night. HMS Tamar will follow today.
France’s heavy-handed reaction came after Jersey’s authorities introduced new licenses for French trawlers using its waters.
The system – launched by the Jersey government under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation
Agreement (TCA) – requires French boats to show they have a history of fishing in Jersey’s waters.
A Downing Street spokesman said last night: “This evening the Prime Minister spoke to the Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator John Le Fondré, and [Jersey’s] Minister of External Affairs, Ian Gorst, about the prospect of a blockade of Saint Helier.
“The Prime Minister and Chief Minister stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions and for dialogue between Jersey and France on fishing access. The Prime Minister underlined his unwavering support for Jersey.
“He said that any blockade would be completely unjustified. As a precautionary measure the UK will be sending two Offshore Patrol Vessels to monitor the situation.
“They agreed the UK and Jersey Governments would continue to work closely on this issue.”
The offshore patrol vessels, armed with cannon and machine guns, are under orders to protect the UK’s sovereign fishing grounds.
Tobias Ellwood slammed France’s “shameful behaviour” and pleaded for calm. The ex-defence minister added: “It would be wise to dispatch a Royal Navy Patrol Vessel to the area to observe and report.”
Former First Sea LordAdmiralThe Lord West said sending the patrol ships was a sensible move – and that it would be “outrageous” to abandon part of Britain to France.
Channel Island ministers claim the French are acting in a “disproportionate” manner and have a history of intimidating neighbours. French maritime minister Annick Girardin’s this week issued threats of “retaliatory measures” using the power supplied to Jersey from France.
She told the French parliament on Tuesday: “Even though I am sorry that it has come to this, we will do so if we have to.”
Jersey residents hit back by launching a social media offensive against the “bullyboy tactics” and vowed to “ready the cannons!”. And Mr Gorst denied French claims that his government deliberately delayed issuing new fishing licences to its boats.
He said 17 out of the 41 vessels which sought licences had been approved and the others needed extra detail on their application.
He added: “The trade deal is clear but I think there has been some confusion about how it needs to be implemented.We absolutely respect the historic rights of French fishermen to fish in Jersey waters as they have been doing for centuries.”
A British Government spokesman said: “To threaten Jersey like this is unacceptable and disproportionate.
“We trust the French will use the mechanisms of our new treaty to solve problems.” Another senior
Government source added: “Comments such as these are surprising and disappointing, especially from a close neighbour.”
On social media, Terry Underwood said: “They react with bullyboy tactics, throw a fit, stamp their feet anytime anything fails to meet their own agenda.”
Karl Renouf wrote: “Ready the cannons!”
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