“French fishermen want direct talks with Jersey”

Chris Le Masurier aboard the Normandy Trader in the port of St Helier holding the Breton flag which was given to him Photo: DAVID FERGUSON (32134990)

Yesterday, French ships blocked three Channel ports – St Malo, Ouistreham and Calais – in the latest stage of the long-standing dispute between the British and the French over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Chris Le Masurier, of the Jersey Oyster Company, which delivered produce to Saint-Malo yesterday, said the fishermen were protesting the ongoing political process in the EU and UK rather than settling locally.

He added that he had been delayed for an hour because of the demonstration and then met Pascal Lecler, who chairs the Ille-et-Vilaine fisheries commission, who handed him a Breton flag and asked him to send a message to the Jersey government.

“It was a protest by French fishermen to make their government aware that they want to be involved in their own destiny,” Le Masurier said. “Breton and Norman fishermen want to speak directly with Jersey as they did with the Granville Bay Treaty, rather than the process going through London, Brussels and Paris.

“They want to negotiate their rights to fish in the waters they have historically used rather than their rights used for political ends. For now, everyone is losing out on this Brexit process – in Jersey and in France.

He said he spoke with Mr Lecler, who told him he was “welcome in the port” after the protest ended.

“I was delayed for an hour because I was allocated a slot at the time of the demonstration, which was at 8 am. I was in command of the ship. After that, I moved next to one of the French boats to chat. I spoke with Pascal Lecler, the president of the Brittany Fisheries Commission. He told me he wanted me to send a message to the Jersey government and come and speak directly with Normandy and Brittany. He gave me a Breton flag and I then left all my seafood and returned to the island, ”said Mr. Le Masurier.

He added that he had been continually frustrated in trying to contact the government to voice his concerns about the situation.

The discontent stems from the imposition of a new post-Brexit fishing regime on January 1 whereby Jersey was granted the exclusive right to grant licenses for the commercial use of its waters and it was agreed to restrict l access of EU vessels to UK waters.

A total of 116 permanent permits have been issued to French boats by the Jersey authorities, along with 46 other temporary permits which are due to expire on January 31. However, 55 vessels were denied access on the grounds that they could not provide sufficient evidence of the historic use of Jersey waters.

French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin, who earlier this year threatened to cut off the island’s electricity supply over the dispute, last week accused Jersey of “reluctance to cooperate” on the issue and of threatening French fishermen.

Meanwhile, Deputy Environment Minister MP Gregory Guida said he expected “more underhand” action from the French and called Ms Girardin’s comments “utterly absurd” .

Yesterday, a financial support program for the Jersey fishing industry was extended until the end of the year.

Between May and August, the Fisheries Support Program provided £ 120,000 in funding to the industry. Fishing companies will now be able to continue to claim fixed costs and salary support until 31 December, with an additional £ 400,000 set aside for this purpose.

The objectives of the program are to ensure that the industry’s “basic infrastructure and critical mass” continue to function and to “provide transitional support during the period of disruption to export routes and access to the market. Marlet “.

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