Post-Brexit fishing regime will create a ‘sustainable’ industry, says minister

JERSEY’S new post-Brexit fishing regime will secure the ‘sustainable’ future of the industry, the External Relations Minister has said in response to a suggestion that fishermen might need to switch livelihoods.

French fishing boats blockaded St Helier Harbour earlier this year in protest against the Island’s new fishing licensing regime. Tensions between the jurisdiction have flared at different times over the past eight months in relation to the dispute Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (32112371)
French fishing boats blockaded St Helier Harbour earlier this year in protest against the Island’s new fishing licensing regime. Tensions between the jurisdiction have flared at different times over the past eight months in relation to the dispute Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (32112371)

During States question time yesterday, Constable Mike Jackson quizzed Senator Ian Gorst on whether British Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated UK support for the Island’s industry during a recent meeting between the two.

Jersey has been at the centre of an international row over fishing rights with the post-Brexit Trade and Co-operation Agreement, signed late last year, handing the Island the sole right to issue licences to use its waters from 1 January.

Senator Gorst said Mr Johnson had backed Jersey’s approach in the dispute.

‘During the recent meetings the Prime Minister reaffirmed his support for Jersey’s approach to licensing French fishing vessels, which has been reasonable and fully in line with the TCA.

‘The Prime Minister noted that both the UK and Jersey were issuing licenses on the basis of evidence of historic fishing activity as required by the TCA. The UK government continues to support Jersey through its discussions with the European Commission and the direct involvement of Jersey officials as Jersey works to implement, in good faith, the TCA’s provisions on fisheries and other matters,’ Senator Gorst said.

Mr Jackson said that the Jersey fishing fleet was ‘somewhat despondent’ over the manner in which the government had handled the new fishing arrangements.

He added: ‘While I appreciate the sensitive nature of the negotiations, will the minister give fishermen in Jersey some justification why they should continue to invest in the industry and not take up knitting – as was the case in time past in the 18th century?’

Senator Gorst said that he could not comment on the ‘economic viability of knitting’ but said that government officials were in constant contact with the industry.

He said: ‘I fully understand, as does the Environment Minister, who is in virtually daily, certainly weekly, contact with the fishing industry, the difficulties that they are experiencing on a daily basis.

‘Both his officers and my officers are constantly working to support. But of course the industry doesn’t stand united in what is the primary aim out of the Brexit deal.

‘It cannot be a surprise that the implementation of a changed arrangement, which is very much in Jersey’s benefit and is to the benefit of a more sustainable fishing industry here in Jersey into the future, would be smoothly implemented, and implemented in a timely manner.

‘But it is important that we continue to implement the deal fairly, appropriately and pragmatically because it is ultimately in the interests of the Jersey fishing fleet to do so. We will then have a sustainable fishery into the future.’

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