Meeting produces no solution for fishermen’s Brexit issues

A MEETING between the government and fishermen held to try to find a way of resolving Brexit-related fishing difficulties failed to produce a solution.

Members of Jersey's fishing fleet taking part in demonstration over post-Brexit fishing issues. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30446448)
Members of Jersey's fishing fleet taking part in demonstration over post-Brexit fishing issues. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30446448)

And one fisherman who attended – Chris Le Masurier from the Jersey Oyster Company – branded the meeting ‘a complete waste of time’ and a ‘tick-box exercise’, saying it did not provide any further clarity about financial support for the industry.

Environment Minister John Young said following the discussions that he and his fellow ministers would continue to work with the industry, with another meeting due to take place before Easter.

This week’s meeting followed months of difficulties for fishermen and aquaculturists who have experienced significantly increased levels of bureaucracy when trying to land their catch in France.

Tensions boiled over earlier this month when most of the Island’s fleet took part in a high-profile demonstration, setting off flares and positioning their vessels within the entrance to the Harbour.

In a statement, Deputy Young said: ‘The meeting was part of ongoing efforts to address the significant challenges facing the industries following the UK’s exit from the EU and Single Market on 1 January 2021. Topics discussed included the difficulties involved in landing of fisheries products in French ports, particularly live bivalve molluscs, the future licensing of vessels in accordance with the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement, access to waters and support for the industry following Brexit and in view of the ongoing Covid-19 challenge.

Deputy John Young Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30446090)

‘Attendees agreed that further clarification was needed on French landing arrangements for Jersey catches. The meeting also agreed that discussions should continue on the exact nature of support that can be provided to assist the industry in addressing current challenges, and how market opportunities may be maintained and enhanced in the future.

‘The meeting welcomed the open and constructive discussions between ministers, officials and the local fisheries industry, and while a comprehensive solution was not reached, it was agreed that a further meeting would take place before Easter to ensure these mutual objectives were progressed in a single forum involving all interested stakeholders.’

Deputy Young added that States Members and government officials would continue to liaise with industry representatives and French authorities on a regular basis to address any issues as they arise.

However, Mr Le Masurier said the discussions had failed to properly address financial support for the industry – one of the key issues.

‘It was a complete waste of time and a tick-box exercise to allow them to say they are engaging with industry. There was mention of financial support in three phases but it was read out “this is phase one, two, three. OK – let’s move on” and that was it,’ he said.

Jersey Oyster Company production unit in Grouville. Chris Le Masurier, MD Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30347044)

‘We had an hour-and-a-half meeting and it took them five minutes to read that out but they did not go into any detail whatsoever with any of it. It did not clear anything up.’

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