The UK’s departure from the EU at 11pm on Friday ended the London Fisheries Convention, which allowed French fishermen access to Guernsey waters.
French vessels will now have to get a special document, which is issued by Guernsey and then has to be authorised in France. The changes have effectively brought to an and – in the short term, at least – the rights of some French boats to access Sarnian waters.
Furious crews and market officials in Normandy have reportedly told the Guernsey fleet it is no longer safe for them to enter their ports.
Guernseyman Pierro Le Cheminant, who runs the 14-metre-long trawler the Amy Blue and lands his catches at French ports, last week received an
email from the Cherbourg market warning him that it would not be safe to enter the port.
‘It said it was not safe for us to go in there.
‘French fishermen are up in arms,’ he said. Alderney fisherman Dave Gillingham, who has more than 30 years’ experience skippering fishing boats, said he had been contacted by a French fisherman warning him to stay away from Cherbourg.
Mr Gillingham said the threat to GU-registered vessels was real and French fishermen could cause them serious problems.
‘They could blockade the port or set fire to our boats. It has all been done in the past,’ he said.
Jersey’s fishing arrangements with the French remain unchanged, as reciprocal access to each other’s waters has been arranged through the Granville Bay Treaty, which is unaffected by Brexit.
However, it is understood some local fishermen were concerned that the French may have ill feeling towards all Channel Island crews.
One Jersey boat safely landed its catch in Normandy yesterday without any problems, and Don Thompson, president of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, said he was confident local boats would not face issues.
‘There has not been any signal that there is going to be an impact on us. We are not expecting any problems.
‘We will have more boats going over throughout this week, and we are advising them to go as planned,’ he said.