Several dozen French fishing boats have held a protest in the port of the British island of Jersey, more than 20 kilometres off the coast of Normandy. They‘re upset about fishing rules that have been in force since last week in the waters around Jersey. The issue has led to diplomatic tension between the British and French Governments. The British have sent naval ships to the area, France has deployed patrol boats.
On Friday, the British island authorities announced stricter rules for French boats wishing to fish around Jersey. According to Jersey, this is in line with the agreements in the Brexit Agreement, but France contradicts that.
French Minister Girardin for the Sea has threatened to stop electricity supply to the island in retaliation. The British Government then announced yesterday to send patrol ships ‘as a precaution‘ against this ‘unacceptable threat‘. The United Kingdom is responsible for the defence of the island, which is British Crown owned.
This morning, dozens of French fishermen arrived in Jersey port to protest against the new rules. There they say they carry some “intimidating rounds”. The port was also blocked for a short time. The fishermen said they want to keep the protests peaceful.
This fisherman fears that 80% of French boats will disappear:
Later in the day they spoke with the authorities of the British island. According to a fisherman’s spokesman, that conversation went “not very positively”. In the afternoon, they sailed back to France.
According to the BBC, the two British naval ships are patrolling a few kilometres away. France also sent two patrol ships this morning.
Minister Beaune for European Affairs tells the press agency AFP that France will not be intimidated. He spoke on the matter with British Brexit Minister Frost. “We do not want tensions,” Beaune emphasises. “All we want is a quick and full application of the Brexit Agreement.”
According to correspondent Tim de Wit in the UK, Jersey seems to have adjusted the rules independently, but there is indeed support from London. The fact that Prime Minister Johnson immediately sent a number of naval ships to Jersey indicates that.
According to De Wit, the fact that elections are taking place today, not only in Scotland but also in other parts of the UK, also plays a role in Johnson‘s military support to Jersey. Johnson would like to send the message that he won’t abandon his own people.
The European Commission mediates in the case. A spokesman has called on both sides to calm down.
The fishermen arrived early this morning: