France Says Talks to Resume With Jersey on Fishing Licenses
Negotiations on access for French fishermen to waters around Jersey will continue after the British island postponed new licensing rules and France lifted a ban on vessels from the Channel Islands landing catches at its ports.
The U.K. and French navies were last week drawn into the increasingly bitter dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights, after dozens of French boats mounted a protest near the main harbor in Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands off the northwest coast of France.
“Jersey just proposed to postpone the new technical restrictions until the end of July, so that we can start negotiations in the coming hours,” France’s maritime minister, Annick Girardin, told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Jersey’s government said it has offered to give recently licensed French vessels until July 1 to provide further evidence of their track record of fishing around the island, one of the criteria for being granted access to the self-governing crown dependency’s waters under the Brexit trade deal.
“Jersey would like to move beyond recent events and focus on finding a resolution,” External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said in a statement on the government’s website. French-speaking officials have been employed to help smooth the process of communicating with the fishermen, he added.
Last week’s protest ended without major incident, but the disagreement over fishing access lingers on, highlighting some of the frictions caused by Britain’s messy divorce from the European Union.
Negotiations over fish were one of the most contentious elements of the post-Brexit trade accord, and France has said it could limit access for U.K. financial services companies into the EU if its fishing boats aren’t treated fairly.
Girardin also threatened that her government could shut down the undersea power cables that supply Jersey with 95% of its electricity.
France says Jersey granted fishing licenses to 41 boats last week, but unilaterally added new conditions to them, which Girardin said were “unacceptable.”
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