French fishermen returned home after protests off the coast of Jersey

The degree of tension in the conflict between Paris and London over restrictions on the rights of French fishermen to fish off the island of Jersey has been slightly reduced. This came after more than 60 schooners from Normandy and Brittany, which almost blockaded the main island town of St. Helier on Thursday, returned home.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson then ordered the two Royal Navy patrol ships Tamar and Severn, which were on the Jersey shore, to leave its waters. Apparently, French warships sent to the disputed area to monitor the situation will do the same.

But before this several French fishermen landed on the shore and had talks with the Jersey authorities. As Dmitri Rogoff, head of the Normandy regional fisheries committee, said after the meeting, “the demonstration of our strength is over, and now the politicians have to deal with the problem.”

He added that if no positive result is achieved and the restrictions are lifted, then the French government should realize its threat and “cut off” the island from the electricity supplied, thereby a submarine cable from France (only 22 nautical miles to its coastline).

Annick Girardin, Minister of Maritime Affairs, announced earlier in the National Assembly that this option is being considered. And today, Minister-Delegate for Foreign Trade Frank Riester spoke on the same subject. He said that “restrictions on the issuance of fishing licenses are contrary to the Brexit agreement” and that it “must be respected.” At the same time, he emphasized that Paris “will not compromise,” and French fishermen can count on his support.

The “fish question” was perhaps the most difficult issue in the negotiations between Brussels and Great Britain on the terms of its withdrawal from the EU. The British wanted full sovereignty over several fishing areas. The EU, in turn, insisted on retaining the right to industrial fishing in those areas. In the end, it was agreed that for five and a half years the Europeans could do it as before, but in 2026 a gradual reduction of quotas for the access of the European fleet to the British economic zone would begin.

However, in Jersey, they decided to infringe the rights of the French already this year. Out of 344 applications submitted by French fishermen for fishing in Jersey waters, only 41 schooners received permission. In this case, conditions are put forward that were not discussed in the Brexit agreement. According to the fishermen, these are the length of time ships are in the fishing zones, the reduction of these areas, and other discriminatory regulatory measures.