FRANCE is threatening to cut off Jersey’s electricity supply in a row over access to fishing waters.
It comes as a new post-Brexit law came into place on the Island on Friday, meaning french boats fishing off Jersey now need a special license from the Jersey government.
French fishermen and government officials are threatening to cut an underwater electricity cableCredit: Jersey Electricity
French fishermen wishing to fish in Jersey must apply for a new licenseCredit: AFP
Now angry trawlermen and government officials want to cut a cable which runs underwater from Northern France to Jersey in response.
Maritime Minister Annick Girardin told lawmakers in parliament: “We are ready to use these retaliation measures.
“I am sorry it has come to this,” Girardin said, but “we will do so if we have to.”
In the latest move, Britain on Friday authorised 41 ships equipped with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) technology – which allows ships to be located – to fish in waters off Jersey, a self-governing British Crown Dependency.
A group of the fishermen have declared the licenses ‘null and void’Credit: AFP
But this list was accompanied by new demands “which were not arranged or discussed (with France), and which we were not notified about”, the French fisheries ministry said.
The new licenses are issued as long as the fisherman can prove they previously fished in Jersey waters at least 10 times in the last three years.
But the new laws also mean they will be restricted on how often they can fish.
And Trawlermen with a license will have to follow rules on what they can catch and what vessels and equipment they can use.
Now a group of the fishermen and officials are fighting back, and have declared the licenses “null and void”.
“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Girardin said. “If we accept this for Jersey, it would imperil our access everywhere.”
Paris and London have increasingly clashed over fishing in recent weeks, as French fishermen say they are being prevented from operating in British waters because of difficulties in obtaining licences.
Last week France threatened “reprisals” against Britain if No 10 doesn’t grant its fishermen greater access to UK waters.
Europe minister Clement Beaune said Paris will be a “brutal and difficult partner” until it secures more catches.
French trawler men have accused No 10 of failing to stick to last year’s Brexit deal by shutting them out of our coastal areas.
But British officials deny the claims and say they’ve granted fishing licences in line with information provided by the EU Commission.
And two weeks ago skippers blockaded the port of Boulogne and stopped UK lorries in a protest against the current terms.