This morning an armada of French Fishing boats demonstrated their opposition to Jersey’s post-Brexit fishing rules by sailing to St Helier harbour. Although they have, at the time of writing, retreated to the western side of St Aubin’s Bay, a French navy patrol vessel, the Athos, is currently sailing towards the Island. Two Royal Navy Patrol vessels are now in position to the south of the bay, so as to monitor the on-going situation.
The ‘Commodore Goodwill’ is currently ‘trapped’ in St Helier Harbour, as described by Condor’s manging director, Paul Luzon, unable to begin its scheduled sailing to the UK.
The situation is on-going, but the fact that some of the French fishing vessels have their overnight catch still on board, which they will need to offload in France, suggests that the French fleet might decrease in number as the morning progresses.
French politicians have not exactly calmed these rough waters by suggesting that they might ‘bring Jersey to its knees’ by turning off electricity supplies to the Island, which come via undersea cables from Normandy.
In a statement issued last night, Jerseys’ chief minister, Senator John Le Fondré and the External Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, said: ‘We welcome the ongoing support from the Prime Minister and UK Government to achieve a diplomatic solution to this dispute. Diplomatic efforts will continue to resolve the outstanding issues relating to fishing licences and to de-escalate the situation, and we will continue to liaise closely with UK and French officials over the coming hours and days to achieve a pragmatic solution.‘Jersey’s essential infrastructure will not be disrupted as local facilities are able to meet our power requirements in the event of any external interruption.”
St Lawrence Deputy Kirsten Morel has suggested that Jersey is ‘a pawn in a bigger game’, in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is sending Royal Navy vessels to Jersey in order to show strength and a determination to ‘stand up to’ the French on the day that elections take place across the UK.