Home Business News French fishermen in a standoff with Royal Navy in Jersey

French fishermen in a standoff with Royal Navy in Jersey

6th May 21 10:06 am

The British government have sent two Royal Navy gun ships to the coast of Jersey as “a precaution” over concerns that French fishermen will blockade the port.

The Royal Navy sent HMS Severn and HMS Tamar to “monitor the situation” as French fishermen have arrived at the port of St Helier to protest over post-Brexit fishing rights and the lack of access to Jersey’s waters.

Jersey fisherman Josh Dearing described the scene at the port of St Helier as “like an invasion.”

He told the PA news agency, “There were probably about 60 boats. There were a few hand-held flares and smoke flares going off and apparently a few maybe bangers and stuff going off from the French.”

He said the French fishermen fleet was mostly made up of “big French dredgers and trawlers” of around 12 metres.

On Wednesday evening Boris Johnson spoke with the Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator John Le Fondre over the “prospect of a blockade of Saint Helier.”

A Downing Street spokesman said, “The Prime Minister and Chief Minister stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions and for dialogue between Jersey and France on fishing access.

“The Prime Minister underlined his unwavering support for Jersey. He said that any blockade would be completely unjustified.

“As a precautionary measure the UK will be sending two offshore patrol vessels to monitor the situation.

“They agreed the UK and Jersey governments would continue to work closely on this issue.”

Le Fondre and the minister for external relations, Senator Ian Gorst said they were expecting a “peaceful demonstration by the French fishermen outside St Helier Harbour” on Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, they said, “The responsible ministers and government officials have met this evening to ensure that the very best plans are in place to ensure Islanders interests are properly protected at all times.

“We remain confident in our ability to do this.

“We welcome the ongoing support from the prime minister and UK government to achieve a diplomatic solution to this dispute, and we are aware that the UK are sending two offshore patrol vessels as a precautionary measure to monitor the situation in Jersey waters.”

This all comes after furious French officials and fishermen have warned that Jersey will be plunged into darkness as they have to apply for a licence to fish in their waters.

On Wednesday the French Maritime Minister, Annick Girardin threatened of the potential electricity cuts, “We are ready to use these retaliation measures.

“Europe, France has the means, that’s written in the deal.

With regards to Jersey, I would remind you, for example, of electricity transmission by underwater cable.

“So, we have the means. Even if I would regret getting to that point, we will if we have to.”

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