‘Lifeline links to France cut as ports are blocked’

LIFELINE freight and passenger links between Jersey and France were still severed as a result of French ports being effectively blocked to Jersey vessels by fishermen, an Island businessman said yesterday.

Pete Crafter, captain of the Thora, said his business was among several which, in spite of having no connection to the fishing industry, were being adversely affected by the dispute which flared up last week and remains unresolved. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30836808)
Pete Crafter, captain of the Thora, said his business was among several which, in spite of having no connection to the fishing industry, were being adversely affected by the dispute which flared up last week and remains unresolved. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30836808)

Equipment for the new Strive elite sport facility at St Peter, which is due to be used by rugby players from the British and Irish Lions at their Jersey training camp next month, is among the freight stuck at Granville in Normandy.

Shipping company Boatloads owner Pete Crafter said that the forced cancellation of his company’s weekly service meant that four Polish nationals had been unable to make essential journeys from the Island to Poland, while a French national working in Jersey had been unable to travel on the return service due to operate today.

Mr Crafter said he had been forced to tell his Polish passengers that their trip was cancelled a few minutes before they had been due to pay £600 in fees for pre-travel tests for Covid-19. He said that Boatloads was among several businesses which, in spite of having no connection to the fishing industry, were being adversely affected by the dispute which flared up last week and remains unresolved.

‘We were due to transport freight such as cement, which has a limited shelf life, and passengers who are essentially employed,’ he said. ‘I can’t see it being resolved, and I’ve had no contact or offers of help from the government in Jersey.’

Tensions between France and Jersey have escalated since Brexit, culminating in a high-profile protest led by French fishermen in St Helier Harbour last week.

The dispute centres on the issuing of licences enabling French boats to access Jersey waters as part of the post-Brexit agreement, with the Gallic traders saying that the conditions placed on them are too restrictive.

Ben Harvey, managing director of Strive, confirmed yesterday that a £150,000 cryotherapy chamber and a plunge pool, which were sitting on the dockside in Granville, were due to be installed at his facility.

Mr Harvey said alternative options for getting the specialist equipment to Jersey were being considered, including the possibility of transporting them via the UK.

The specialist equipment due to be in place at Strive was a factor in the decision by the British and Irish Lions to choose Jersey as the location for the training camp in June ahead of the team’s summer tour of South Africa.

Although a decree by the Department de la Manche blocking freight between Granville and St Helier was temporarily lifted on Monday, it is understood that this was re-imposed by the Norman authorities on Tuesday. This prompted the cancellation of freight services, as well as preventing Jersey fishermen from landing their catches.

A Government of Jersey spokesperson said that fisheries officers had passed on information about potential problems on Tuesday.

‘There was a duty of care to forward this information, and government offered no advice as to whether or not they should land,’ the spokesperson said.

The JEP asked the government what action was being taken to resolve the issue but had received no response at the time of publication.

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