Culture

United Kingdom sends two navy boats to Jersey after France threatens blockade

United Kingdom sends two navy boats to Jersey after France threatens blockade”

While the British naval vessels observed the protest from a distance, France sent two Navy ships to waters near Jersey in a tit-for-tat move, French media reported.

According to Ian Gorst, Jersey's external relations minister, the talks between his government's officials and French fishermen protesting at Jersey's port of St Helier earlier on Thursday had been "positive".

The UK has sent British gunboats to Jersey amid tensions with France over Brexit fishing rights. Jersey receives most of its electricity from France, supplied through undersea cables.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called John Le Fondré, chief minister of Jersey, Wednesday night and again Thursday morning.

"It would seem disproportionate to cut off electricity for the sake of needing to provide extra details so that we can refine the licences".

The flotilla, made up of fishermen angered by Jersey's decision to place new restrictions on fishing licences granting access to its waters, has threatened to bring the island "to its knees".

"To threaten Jersey like this is clearly unacceptable and disproportionate", a British government spokesman said, adding: "We trust the French will use the mechanisms of our new treaty to solve problems".

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says there is an urgent need for dialogue between Jersey and France on fishing access.

French fishermen are threatening to blockade the port of Saint Helier, the capital of Jersey, Channel Islands.

French fishing fleet is seen at the entrance to the harbour in St Helier Jersey
French fishing fleet is seen at the entrance to the harbour in St Helier Jersey

Mr Gorst, however, said the island was not seeking to bar boats which had historically fished in Jersey waters and insisted the dispute could be resolved amicably.

He said the Jersey government was now seeking permission from London and Brussels to speak directly with the French fishermen concerned to resolve the issue. So, we have the means. "Even if it would be regrettable if we had to do it, we'll do it if we have to", Girardin told France's National Assembly on Tuesday, per Reuters.

On Friday, Britain authorised 41 ships equipped with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) technology - which allows ships to be located - to fish in waters off the island of Jersey, which is a self-governing British Crown Dependency.

AFP cited a spokesperson for the coast guard on the Channel as saying that one of the French boats was a gendarme police vessel and the other a maritime administration patrol boat. "Jersey has consistently shown its commitment to finding a smooth transition to the new regime", Horst said in a statement. "We are not going to be able to do much", he said.

They are both 90.5m in length, have two large guns, including a short-range anti-aircraft weapon, and are crewed by 45 sailors and up to 50 Royal Marines.

'We consider that if the new demands for sea zoning or fishing equipment are integrated into the licences - when the European Commission has not been notified - they are null and void, ' the ministry told AFP.

French fishermen have complained about new licensing requirements announced by Jersey authorities.

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal declined to comment on the electricity issue on Wednesday, but he expressed France's "total determination" to fully implement the post-Brexit agreement with the United Kingdom, especially regarding the fishing industry.

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