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Jersey news – live: Royal Navy warships stood down as French fishing boats leave St Helier after protest

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Tensions rise as French boats stage protest amid fishing row

French fishing vessels are now sailing away from St Helier in Jersey following a protest over post-Brexit fishing rights. Several dozen small craft took part in the demonstration on Thursday morning.

France’s navy dispatched two coastal patrol vessels to monitor the protest, while Britain deployed two Royal Navy ships, HMS Severn and HMS Tamar, to conduct a similar task.

However, despite rising tensions, the UK will “absolutely not” go to war with France over the fishing dispute, Jersey’s foreign minister has said.

Ian Gorst told TalkRadio threats from Paris about cutting off Jersey’s electricity were “totally disproportionate to the technical issues” of implementing Brexit, but that diplomatic solutions were needed.

On Thursday he said he had “positive” talks with the French fishing crews.


Morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the fishing dispute between Jersey and France.

Rory Sullivan6 May 2021 08:20

UK sends navy ships to Jersey

The fishing dispute between France and Jersey worsened earlier this week when a French minister threatened to cut off the island’s electricity supply.

The UK blasted the threat as “unacceptable”, before later sending two navy vessels to assist Jersey.

Here’s Jon Stone with the details:

UK blasts ‘unacceptable’ threats by France to cut Jersey’s electricity supply in fishing dispute

Jersey says French fisherman do not understand new Brexit fishing rules

Rory Sullivan6 May 2021 08:22

French fishing vessels descend on Jersey

Dozens of French fishing vessels made their way to Jersey on Thursday morning to stage a protest against new post-Brexit fishing licences.

This is an interactive map showing their arrival:

Rory Sullivan6 May 2021 08:28

Picture: French boats arrive off Jersey coast

French fishing boats arrive to stage a protest outside the harbour of St Helier, Jersey, on Thursday morning.

Rory Sullivan6 May 2021 08:34

Jersey fishermen say French demands are ‘grossly unfair’

Jersey’s fishermen have said they will ditch their fishing licences if the French fleets gets its demands.

Don Thompson, president of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, told Good Morning Britain: “We’ve already told our minister - our licences, some of our fishermen have paid a quarter of a million pounds for our licences - we’re going to get rid of our licences and fish without licences.

“We just will not put up with those (French) boats being left to fish uncontrolled, unsustainably in our waters, whilst we’re subject to all sorts of constraints.”

He added that it would be “grossly unfair” if the French fleet got its way.

Rory Sullivan6 May 2021 08:46

Ministers must hold talks with France, Labour says

The government’s decision to send gunboats to Jersey should be followed by negotiations with France, Labour has suggested.

John Healey MP, the shadow defence secretary, described French threats against the Channel Island as “completely unreasonable”, adding that the presence of the navy vessels will “help reassure residents and protect Britain’s broader national interests”.  

“The British government must now get round the table with French colleagues and authorities in Jersey and sort this issue out,” he said.

Rory Sullivan6 May 2021 08:50

Jersey fisherman ‘pleased’ about presence of Navy ships

Fisherman Josh Dearing said he was “absolutely” pleased about the deployment of Royal Navy ships to the waters off Jersey.

He told PA that normally the crown dependency was “completely unprotected”, except for a few police officers.

“The French can be hostile. All of our livelihoods are in that harbour and if they wanted to they could cause damage,” he added.

Rory Sullivan6 May 2021 09:04

Jersey oyster farmer says UK government has been ‘an absolute disgrace’

Not everyone on Jersey is against the French fleet’s protest this morning.

Chris Le Masurier, who owns the Jersey Oyster Company, accused the British government of being an “absolute disgrace”, saying he is on the side of the French fishermen.

Speaking to the Jersey Evening Post, Mr Le Masurier said the new post-Brexit fishing licences given to French fishermen were “insulting and discriminatory”.

He added: ‘I will stand with them and take the Normandy Trader [boat] and be with them to take part in a peaceful protest. It has been an absolute disgrace by our government. It is about protecting people’s historic rights, livelihoods and friendships which have been forged over years.

‘I would urge the government to act with the utmost urgency.”

Rory Sullivan6 May 2021 09:11

UK not going to war with France, Jersey minister says

Jersey’s foreign minister says the UK is “absolutely not” going to war with France over the fishing dispute.

Ian Gorst, the foreign minister, told TalkRadio: “Let's be clear, the threats emanating from Paris, and then the threat today of a blockade of our harbour here in St Helier, are totally disproportionate to the technical issues that we're facing with the implementation of the Brexit trade deal.

"We take those threats very seriously. We're grateful to the prime minister for his full support, and what we need to do now is find diplomatic solutions to the issues that we're facing."

Mr Gorst added that "in extremis" Jersey could generate its own power if France cut off its supply to the island.

The presence of two Royal Navy patrol vessels was “a precautionary measure to monitor Jersey waters”.

“We welcome that support from the British government, but let's be clear, we are also content with a peaceful demonstration and protests by French fishermen, and so far that is exactly what's happened,” he told TalkRadio.

Noting that shipping to Jersey had only been “slightly delayed” by the action, Mr Gorst added: “We do not expect anything other than a peaceful protest.”

Jon Sharman6 May 2021 09:30

Full story: UK ‘absolutely not’ going to war with France

Britain is "absolutely not" going to war with France over fishing in the Channel, Jersey's foreign minister has said, after Boris Johnson ordered in the Royal Navy to protect the island's territorial waters.

Speaking as the international row escalated on Thursday morning Ian Gorst said the island's government believed French fisherman were carrying out a legitimate peaceful protest.

It comes after the French government threatened to cut off the island's electricity supply and around 80 fishing boats moved to disrupt shipping into the island port of St Helier, writes Jon Stone.

Jon Sharman6 May 2021 09:47

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