Brexit fishing row: French warn of ‘never ending war’ if they are kept out of waters
Brexit: Fisherman discusses plan to 'look further afield'
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French fishermen were accused of “decimating” the Jersey coastline earlier this month as uncertainty looms over access to the Channel Island’s waters. The Brexit trade deal gives Jersey the sole power over licences for all boats, but French vessels with historical fishing activity in Jersey waters will continue to have access and could still outnumber Jersey boats. This arrangement replaced the Bay of Granville Treaty – an accord that was not popular with some in Jersey as it allowed French authorities to license their own boats to fish in the island’s waters.
At the end of this month, the amnesty ends, meaning any vessel not from Jersey must prove their historical operation within the island’s waters and get a permanent licence to continue fishing there.
France24 interviewed fishermen in February this year to ask about their future – and one made a worrying warning.
Valentin Simon, a French fishermen, said: “My great grandfather was a fisherman, my father is a fishermen and my brothers are fishermen.
“For the younger generation it is going to be very difficult, but we won’t let them push us around. We can’t afford to or we won’t be able to make a living.
“If they stop us from working in their waters, we will stop them from landing on our ports. So it will become a never ending war, and since 70 percent of their fish is unloaded in France, they won’t be able to earn a living either.
“In the end its up to Brussels and the UK. They will have to work it out.”
Marc Delahaye of the Normandy Fishing Committee expressed anger at the new reality for French fishermen.
He said: “The French state used to have a fixed quota of fishing licenses that it could give to the Normans and Britons.
“Now Jersey is saying, ‘No, it’s me that is giving them out’ – but it is an extremely complicated process between London, Brussels and Paris.
“All that red tape is excruciating, and all French fishermen find it incomprehensible.”
Don Thompson, president of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, has warned however that French fishermen are using unsustainable methods to take tonnes of scallops from the seabed near the Channel Island.
He said: “The heavy gear used by those big powerful boats just wrecks the ground, there’s no two ways about it.
“That’s industrial fishing and it’s unsustainable fishing. Those are the scallop stocks that our fishermen will rely on for the future and they are being absolutely decimated.”
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The UK has secured a trade deal with the EU, resulting in changes to the fishing quotas enjoyed by European vessels in British waters.
The deal ensures that 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the British fleet over a period of five years.
After that, annual negotiations will decide how the catch is shared out between the UK and EU, and Britain would have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026.
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