The UK and France continue to clash over fishing, and the EU has set a deadline of December 10 for the dispute to be resolved. After this date, French ministers will seek to pressure other countries in the bloc to take punitive measures against the UK. The main source of contention is the number of licences to fish in waters around the British coastline for smaller French vessels that can prove they operated in those waters before Brexit. This has also been evident in Jersey, where French fishermen have been left infuriated after being denied licences to work in the Channel Island’s waters.
Speaking to Sky News in May, one fisherman in Jersey hoped Brexit could be the moment that finally gives the island control over its waters.
Louis Jackson, who owns The Fresh Fish Company based in Jersey, said: “I’m worried about the future of the fishing industry in Jersey.
“Because of Brexit, we have a golden opportunity to change things and be on a more-than-even playing field.
“At the moment everything is geared towards the French.”
In September, Jersey and France came to blows after 75 French fishing boats were denied access to the island’s waters.
The French government condemned the decisions by British and Jersey authorities to refuse to issue all the licences requested by French fishermen.
Spokesman Gabriel Attal described them as “totally unacceptable and inadmissible decisions” that “contravene the agreement that was signed in the framework of Brexit”.
In the months since this moment, the French Government has sent a number of threats in the direction of Jersey.
In October, France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune warned that the EU could hit Britain and Jersey’s energy supply.
He said: “Enough already, we have an agreement negotiated by France, by Michel Barnier, and it should be applied 100 percent.
“In the next few days – and I talked to my European counterparts on this subject yesterday – we will take measures at the European level or nationally to apply pressure on the United Kingdom.”
“We defend our interests. We do it nicely, and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work we take measures.
“The Channel Islands, the UK, are dependent on us for their energy supply.
“They think they can live on their own and bad-mouth Europe as well. And because it doesn’t work, they indulge in one-upmanship, and in an aggressive way.”
This week, Jersey granted a further nine French boats permission to work in its waters, meaning 125 French boats can now fish in and around the Channel Island.
Fishermen in the UK are also hoping that they can claim more control in British waters.
The EU and UK’s Brexit agreement, implemented in January, laid out changes to the fishing quotas enjoyed by European vessels in British waters.
The deal ensures that 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the British fleet over a period of five years.
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After that, annual negotiations will 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.
However, Professor Jonathan Portes of King’s College London told Express.co.uk recently that the UK won’t be able to regain full control of its waters.
He said last month: “I think the change is gradual, and it will be renegotiated in five years, but the fundamental structural reasons why the UK won’t be able to regain complete control remain.
“There are clearly some winners and losers in the UK fishing industry. People who export a lot to the EU, especially those who sell shellfish to the EU.
“Some other people, fishermen who now get more catch, have won, and of course it is complicated by the fact that a large part of our fishing industry is owned by foreigners, it turns out.
“It’s a pretty complicated picture.”