Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal with the EU has divided opinion, with fishermen in the UK furious with the terms agreed. UK fishing boats will get a larger share of fish, as 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, there will be annual negotiations to 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. But the EU could respond with taxes on exports of British fish to the EU or by denying UK boats access to EU waters.
Fishermen in Jersey also warned they are “not celebrating” as the deal is poised to allow some French vessels continued access to waters near the Channel island.
The agreement 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.
Don Thompson, of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, said: “We will have a French fleet probably three times the size of our own continuing to fish in our waters.
“Fisherman are certainly not celebrating but we look forward.”
The Brexit trade deal replaced the Bay of Granville Treaty – an accord that angered some in the Channel islands as it allowed French authorities to license their own boats to fish in Jersey waters.
Despite France’s continued access to UK waters, a government minister in Paris warned the country is “ready for battle” in their attempts to have the old treaty reintroduced.
Annick Girardin, France’s Minister of the Sea, said that the French government has contacted the EU to try and push forward its objective.
She said earlier this month: “We have 90 days to possibly make a new treaty. France has already signalled to the European Commission that we want to reactivate the Bay of Granville Treaty to how it was but, at present, Jersey refuses to do this.
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“The government of Jersey considers the TCA to be the only way of taking regional fishing relations forward. Jersey and France must come together to ensure that the implementation of this deal works for both parties at a local level.
“The TCA is explicit – the new arrangements supersede and replace previous arrangements. As such, the Granville Bay Agreement is superseded and replaced.
“However, I want to personally assure our colleagues and neighbours in France that the new arrangements will work as well for local French fishermen as they do for Jersey fishermen.”