French minister threatens to cut off Jersey’s electricity

France threatens to cut off Jersey’s electricity as ‘retaliation’ amid Brexit fishing row

French fishermen accuse UK of dragging feet over issuing new licences

Chiara Giordano
Wednesday 05 May 2021 13:56

France has threatened to cut off Jersey’s electricity supply amid an ongoing row over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Maritime minister Annick Girdardin suggested the move during a speech in the French Parliament, warning Paris was ready to use “retaliatory measures” following claims French fishermen are being blocked from operating in the Channel Islands.

“I am sorry it has come to this [but] we will do so if we have to,” she said on Tuesday.

Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, relies on France for 95 per cent of its electricity supply, which is fed through three underwater cables.

The minister’s comments mark the latest escalation in a row over access to British fishing waters.

French seamen have accused the UK of dragging its feet over issuing new licences needed to fish in its waters.

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, French fishing boat operators must now prove they have fished in UK waters for five years before the 2016 referendum to obtain a licence – which only Jersey can issue.

On Friday, Jersey authorised 41 French fishing vessels - equipped with technology enabling their location to be tracked - to fish in waters off the island.

But the French government claimed there were other new rules the country had not been informed about and complained its fishermen were being limited to where and how long they could fish for.

Last month, French fishermen blockaded a Channel port to hold up British catches arriving by lorry in protest against the new rules, which they believe to be overly bureaucratic.

At the time, Bruno Margolle, who leads the main fishermen’s cooperative in Boulogne-sur-Mer, told Reuters news agency: “We thought it would be a matter of days. Four months on, we’ve barely moved forwards.”

The British government has previously denied responsibility for the licence delays, with the prime minister’s official spokesman saying it takes an “evidenced-based approach” to licensing EU fishing vessels using the information supplied by the European Commission.

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