Fishermen ‘disappointed’ by post-Brexit agreement

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Don Thompson, president of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, said there was a ‘huge amount of disappointment’ among the Island’s fleet that Jersey’s three-mile exclusion zone would not be extended after Brexit, as they had hoped.

Meanwhile, according to media reports in France, Norman and Breton fishermen have been left stunned that the Bay of Granville Treaty, which previously set out shared fishing rights in Jersey’s waters, will shortly become obsolete in a move that goes against assurances they say they received from their own government.

Earlier this week the States Assembly agreed to sign up to the Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement between the EU and UK, which sets out their post-Brexit trading relationship.

A key element of the deal was on the matter of fisheries. The new arrangement will see the joint management of the Island’s waters with French authorities, previously conducted under the Bay of Granville Treaty, come to an end.

Jersey will have sole power to issue licences to both local and EU boats on a ‘non-discriminatory’ basis.

Mr Thompson said that despite Jersey getting full control of the licensing process, he felt little further had been achieved for the Island’s commercial fishermen.

‘There’s generally a huge amount of disappointment around the fishing fleet,’ he said.

‘Even our fisheries officers genuinely thought that at the very least we should have been aiming for was to go with the other two Crown Dependencies for a six-mile exclusion limit, with full management control and up to 12 miles.’

He added that he felt External Relations Minister Ian Gorst had ‘caved in’ on the matter.

‘We’ve got an arrangement that takes us out of the [Bay of Granville] treaty, but effectively all the same levels of access, all the types of fishing – everything that was enshrined in the treaty – we have to preserve.

‘We have sovereignty, but we have both hands tied behind our back.’

Mr Thompson added that he welcomed Jersey receiving authority to license all vessels in its waters, but said that was already ‘a given’ of the Brexit process.

He also said that there were concerns about additional bureaucracy that would be imposed on fishermen looking to land their catches in France, which he said had been imposed rather than trade tariffs in response to British demands for concessions on fishing rights.

Meanwhile, according to French media reports, Normandy president Hervé Morin was shocked to learn of the demise of Bay of Granville Treaty.

On Monday he said: ‘I had [French prime minister] Jean Castex on the phone on Thursday, who assured me that the Granville agreement was not threatened.’

The French sea ministry is reported as having said: ‘There is nothing consolidated at the moment. Our services are on the alert and will engage in discussions with Jersey.’

Under the new arrangement, French vessels will keep their right to fish in Jersey’s waters if they have used them for more than ten days in any 12 months between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2020.

New rules mean that to land their catch in France, Jersey boats will need to give three-to-five-hours notification before landing in an EU port, as well as provide a validated catch certificate one and three hours in advance.

See page 27 of Wedneday’s [30 December] JEP for a comment on Brexit by External Relations Minister Ian Gorst.

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