‘Not working for this island!’ Jersey fishers slam Brexit deal as French cripple business

Jersey fishing: Deal with France 'not working' says Thompson

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Don Thompson,president of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, spoke to Express.co.uk the fishing licence dispute with France – after the UK rejected a large portion of French applications. While on the surface it may be good news for Jersey fishermen, Mr Thompson believes there are a plethora of issues with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed post-Brexit. He says fishermen and Government officials were angry at the deal – as French boats continue to wreak havoc on the island’s fishing sector.

Mr Thompson was asked for his and his fellow fishermen’s verdict on the rejection.

He described feeling unhappy and explained how he has seen few benefits post-Brexit.

Mr Thompson explained: “We had a meeting with our environment minister on Monday to look at the figures.

“It’s actually 111 with another 31 [licences] that have been issued.

“You know, we were saying, what did we get in return, not one single Jersey boat has been licensed to fish in French waters.

“We have been threatened with our electricity supply to be cut off, the administrative sledgehammer came there on January 1 for us.

“Our waters have been declassified to Category B so we can export scallops and whelks – where is all this going?

“[The minister] had to admit that, if it was down to him, he’d be calling time on the whole deal – that is just not working for this island.

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“I suspect that there are many people looking at the wider UK picture thinking that actually it is not working.”

Jersey Environment Minister John Young spoke to Express.co.uk about the fishing issues and said the TCA was not what was “sought” by the Jersey Government.

However, he said the deal does enable the island to have greater autonomy over its waters as it can put a cap on fishing licences – something they did not have before.

The Jersey official suggested his Government has followed the agreement extremely closely but admitted things have not gone to plan. 

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He concluded by saying Jersey fishermen had always supported the historic French boats operating in Jersey’s waters – but did not want to see more.

Mr Young then said that, if the deal fell through, it would not be because of the island’s government.

As part of the post-Brexit agreement, French boats can only operate in Jersey waters if able to prove they have historically operated there.

But administration issues meant many boats lacked the correct documentation to prove they have worked in the waters.

The UK Government has allowed several extensions to the grace period to allow French boats to process their applications but tensions flared up once more when a large majority of applications were recently rejected.

A large portion of French boats have been denied access to UK waters to fish with only 12 of 47 granted licences last month.

Jersey also rejected 75 out of 170 applications, furthering tensions.

France is already considering sanctions on the UK if licences are not granted.

UK boats could also be blocked from landing at French ports.

Mr Thompson told Express.co.uk that, despite many boats being rejected already, the French fleet is nearly three times the size of the domestic Jersey one.

He stressed locals were already competing with each other over limited stocks with the additional French fleet causing havoc for their businesses.

Mr Thompson also revealed his solution to the problem which would be providing reciprocal licences for Jersey fishermen to operate in French waters.

He also suggested waiving the ban on UK shellfish so it can land in the EU.

Waters from third countries, those outside the European Union, are automatically classed as Class B.

This means shellfish cannot land on the continent without being treated in expensive purification tanks, something which also drastically shortens the shelf life of the catch.

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