In 1964 the French began to press their case for greater access to fishing grounds around the islands. They were dissatisfied with the historical 12-mile limit around Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. They argued that they had fished in these waters for generations and that the limit was unreasonable.
In 1989 Guernsey, Alderney and Sark agreed that French boats (but not boats from other EC countries) could fish up to a six-mile limit on the west of the islands. However, agreement on a small portion of sea to the east of the islands, which includes the Schole bank, was not reached until September last year. It is in this area that a flotilla of French boats fished in defiance yesterday.
The agreement reached last year allows only four named French boats, from a limited list of about 20, to fish in the 'Schole box' - a small area that includes most of the Schole bank - at any one time.
To add to the complications, French boats are not allowed to fish in the part of the area between the 6- and 12-mile limits outside the Schole box.
Jersey negotiated its own fishing treaty with the French in 1839, providing a three-mile limit for Jersey fishermen and a 12-mile limit in which only the islanders and the French, and no other EC fishermen, are allowed to work.Reuse content