28 June 2021
The Government of Jersey has offered to extend, for three months, the transition period allowing certain French vessels to continue to fish in Island waters.
Following the UK's exit from the EU, an interim arrangement was agreed at the start of 2021 to allow French fishing boats holding a previous Granville Bay licence to operate in Jersey waters while the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) licence system was being established. The TCA requires evidence of the 'extent and nature' of previous fishing activity to be demonstrated in order for access to be granted.
In recent weeks Jersey, the UK, France and EU officials have been in discussions over the implementation of the TCA, to prevent further disruption and ensure the sustainability of fishing in the area.
The EU has recently requested an extension to the transitional arrangements, which had been due to come to an end on 30 June. Jersey Ministers have agreed to that request, for those vessels which the EU has submitted applications on behalf of, which will allow more time for further track record evidence to be submitted and analysed, and for technical matters to be worked through.
In parallel to the extension, Jersey Ministers wish to see progress in the weeks ahead. Jersey has requested that the EU submits further evidence for existing applications by the end of July, including whether the vessels held Normandy permits.
Ministers have also requested confirmation that the three applicant Jersey vessels can reciprocally operate in EU waters, and called on the EU to ensure Jersey vessels are able to continue landing catch into French ports, under the terms of the TCA.
From 1 July, the revised transitional arrangements will allow the already licensed boats with Vessel Monitoring System equipment (47), and a reduced number of small EU vessels (177 applicants), for which evidence is already being submitted, to continue to fish in Jersey waters. Until the end of September, licence conditions around "number of days" and the "gear" used would remain suspended.
Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said: "Jersey welcomes the engagement on both a technical and political level with the UK, EU and France on resolving the complex and challenging issues around fishing.
"The relationship with France is hugely important to Jersey in so many ways. We know aspects of that relationship have been difficult recently, but want to ensure we work through the issues, fulfilling the terms of the TCA and ensuring the sustainability of fishing in our waters.
"We are offering this extension to the amnesty period to allow the continuation of discussions. Work to establish how to translate the 'extent and nature' provision of the TCA into licensing must continue apace, it is an important element of the TCA and we must all recognise it has genuine meaning."
The full list of qualifying boats will be published on the UK Single Issuing Authority website.
Minister for Environment, Deputy John Young, said: "I hope this extra time will allow real progress and we have included certain steps along the way over the next few months to ensure the situation moves forward at a greater rate, which will benefit all fishermen.
"We urge French and EU authorities to ensure all data has been sent through during the next few weeks. We must guarantee fishing in the Island's waters is sustainable, whilst being compliant with the terms of the TCA."
Last week the Government of Jersey announced a package of financial measures to support Jersey's fishing industry.