Jersey urges talks not threats in French fishing row

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LONDON — Jersey’s government on Friday appealed for calmer heads to prevail as it works through a list of French fishing boats deprived of access to its waters since the UK quit the EU.اضافة اعلان

The British crown dependency said it had granted licenses to another two French vessels, leaving 73 still lacking full data to prove their post-Brexit right to fish in the Channel island’s waters.

Those boats have until the end of October to provide the requisite data, and Minister for External Relations Ian Gorst said more talks would occur in the coming days also involving London, Paris and Brussels.

A French threat to cut off electricity to Jersey would be “disproportionate and unprecedented” if executed, he told reporters.

The island can reactivate its own diesel power station if necessary, but that would be far less climate-friendly than the renewable electricity it receives now from French giant EDF, Gorst said.

France’s Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin said that the issue must be solved “by November 1, since the end of October is the deadline for Jersey give to its responses to the requests for licenses” from French fishing boats.

“Nothing is ruled out today, neither by France nor the European Commission,” she said in Brussels late Friday after meeting with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic. 

The commission is negotiating with London on behalf of France, she said.
Jersey’s Gorst said that “we have no desire whatsoever other than to meet our obligations.” 

“We want to sit down and solve the issue in hand. We fundamentally believe that threats and rhetoric won’t solve the problem.” 

The Channel Islands including Jersey are not part of the UK, but depend on it for their defense. They acceded to the UK’s trade accord with the EU when Brexit took full effect on January 1.

Fishing rights for EU boats in UK waters were a key stumbling block to negotiations for the accord.

The dispute flared in May when a flotilla of around 50 French trawlers massed in front of the Saint Helier harbor in Jersey.

The protest sparked a tense standoff that even drew in French and British military vessels.

Threats of a new blockade by French boats from Normandy and Brittany had not materialized on Friday, Gorst said.

He said he saw no evidence that Jersey had become a pawn in wider post-Brexit battles between Paris and London, including over Northern Ireland and a new submarine contract with Australia.

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