10 May 2021
Jersey’s government has welcomed the news that the Council of La Manche has lifted its ban on Channel Island vessels landing at its ports. The ban, imposed by the Council last week, prevented Channel Island fishermen from landing their catches in Granville, Barneville-Carteret and Dielette. Jersey’s External Relations Minister said that this action was not compliant with the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and referred, through the UK, the Council’s decision to the European Commission. Senator Ian Gorst is pleased that the ports of La Manche are now open to all Channel Island fishermen.
The Government of Jersey has also sent its response on the latest fishing policy issues to the UK, who have in turn written to the European Commission.
The UK and Jersey have defended Jersey’s new fishing licences for EU vessels. Jersey has indicated its willingness to work with the Commission and French Authorities to resolve the current concerns. Jersey has confirmed that it remains open to considering a range of evidence of a qualifying fishing vessel’s track record, and that it will amend licences if further evidence is provided.
As a sign of good faith, Jersey has offered to give recently licensed French vessels until 1 July 2021 to provide further evidence of their track record. It has been made clear that any outstanding evidence must be provided during this period.
This extension to 1 July applies only to VMS vessels now licensed under the TCA and is not an extension of the previous Bay of Granville amnesty, which provided a general extension for all VMS vessels licensed under that agreement.
The letter also confirms that Jersey is ready to act swiftly to ensure that vessels which submit the required additional evidence to demonstrate their previous fishing record in Jersey waters, will have that reflected in their licence and their activities will not be disrupted.
This letter is the latest in a series of communications between Jersey, the UK and the EU since the Trade and Cooperation Agreement was signed in December 2020.
The Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said: “Jersey would like to move beyond recent events and focus on finding a resolution. We stand by our approach to implementing the TCA and we will continue to manage our own waters in line with the Agreement. We have answered the questions that the Commission asked about our approach.
“The people of Jersey are passionate about proactively managing our waters in line with sustainability principles. Therefore, new measures such as limits on dredging and temporarily closing certain areas to carry out scientific studies, are appropriate.
“Jersey understands the challenges faced by both Jersey and French fishermen and we have been flexible this year, as shown by the amnesty period we introduced. We are happy to continue this approach, having listened directly to French fishermen’s concerns on Thursday. Therefore, the Minister for the Environment has agreed to postpone aspects of the licence conditions and will provide more information in a statement to the States Assembly tomorrow, Tuesday 11 May.
“Additionally, the Minister for the Environment has redeployed fluent French speaking staff already employed by the Government to the Marine Resources team. This will ease communication for French fishers who contact the team directly, and will provide a direct phone line for them to do so. This is in addition to the formal channels of communication that must be followed under the trade agreement.
“We remain committed to continued close working with the European Commission in order to help fishermen adjust to the new trade agreement.”
The Trade and Cooperation Agreement introduced significant changes to fishing arrangements between the UK and the EU. This included the right for both parties to regulate in their waters. The TCA also fundamentally changed the access arrangements for EU vessels, including around Jersey. It restricts access to Jersey waters to the actual extent and nature of fishing activity by qualifying vessels from 1 February 2017 to 31 January 2020.
Jersey originally introduced interim arrangements from 1 January – 30 April 2021 to allow EU vessels additional time to provide the evidence needed to support their licence applications. These interim arrangements were previously extended until 1 July for vessels that may take longer to compile their evidence. The offer announced today provides additional time for other larger, VMS vessels that have been issued with licences under the TCA.
Any further evidence of vessels’ track record needs to be provided before this period expires. However, it should be noted that evidence can still be submitted after 1 July, either to amend or receive a licence in accordance with the TCA.