Tensions came to a head recently when a Jersey-based trawler had a catch rejected by harbour authorities in Granville on Monday [4 January] evening.
Although the issue, involving a boat called L’Ecume II, appeared to have been resolved yesterday [5 January] with the catch expected to be landed later in the day, the Jersey Fishermen’s Association said it was concerned by the contrasting approaches taken by authorities in Jersey and France.
The new rules mean that, to land their catch in France, Jersey boats need to give three-to-five-hours’ notice before landing in a designated EU port, as well as provide a validated catch certificate between one and three hours in advance.
‘This Jersey boat was the very first British fishing vessel to dock in France since the start of January and it’s a bad sign that it got rejected,’ said JFA president Don Thompson (picture left).
‘The skipper had gone to great lengths to follow the lengthy process, but even then he was turned away.
‘It seems that the French authorities didn’t understand the new non-tariff barriers. It is good that they have now backed down in this particular case and fortunate that the catch of “fin fish” could be kept on ice, as shellfish would not have been able to be kept for as long.’
Mr Thompson said that the French approach was in stark contrast to Jersey’s, with External Relations Minister Ian Gorst having made clear that the Island would adopt a lenient stance during the immediate post-Brexit period.
‘The approach by Jersey has been to avoid interrupting the livelihoods of French fishermen – it’s a pragmatic approach, but it needs to be reciprocated by the French authorities,’ he said.
Some Jersey fishing businesses are also likely to be affected by regulations that require export merchants, or those seeking to land catches made up of fish from multiple boats, to use a specified border inspection post. Normally this would be St Malo, but due to the lack of ferry traffic St Malo is not available at present, Mr Thompson added.
He also said that approximately 30 French boats had already been granted permits to fish in Jersey waters under the post-Brexit regime.
Meanwhile, many of Jersey’s scallop fishermen are currently unable to operate as a result of phytosanitary regulations that restrict the importation of certain types of seafood into the EU.
‘The scallop fleet was already suffering here as a result of the restrictions on restaurants in Jersey having a significant effect on demand,’ he said. ‘Meanwhile we have the unfair situation where scallop stocks are being depleted by French boats.’