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‘Battle’ in the channel looms as France threatens to cut off Jersey’s electricity over fishing rights
May 5, 2021
France has threatened to cut off the supply of electricity to Jersey in a fight over post-Brexit fishing rights.
French leaders have accused the UK of using red tape to limit fishing, in breach of the agreement made with the EU last year.
France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin said of the potential electricity cuts: “We are ready to use these retaliation measures.
“Europe, France has the means – that’s written in the deal.
“With regards to Jersey, I would remind you, for example, of electricity transmission by underwater cable. So, we have the means. Even if I would regret getting to that point, we will if we have to.”
According to Jersey Electricity, around 95% of the power for the self-governing British Crown Dependency comes through three undersea cables from France, with the rest provided by diesel generators on the island.
On Friday, 41 ships were authorised by the UK to fish in waters off Jersey but France said this authorisation had been accompanied by new demands “which were not arranged or discussed, and which we were not notified about”.
The demands set out where ships could and could not go, how long fishermen can spend at sea, and what machinery they can use, they added.
In comments reported by The Guardian, French politician Bertrand Sorre said a fisher from Granville, who fishes for scallops and whelks “on average 40 days a year” in Jersey’s waters, had been told he would only have access for 11 days.
He added: “The anger is roaring and the desire to do battle is palpable.”
Ms Girardin said these were “absolutely unacceptable”, adding: “If we accept this for Jersey, it would imperil our access everywhere”.
A spokesman for the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said Jersey was responsible for its own territorial waters and fishing management in them, but the UK was responsible for the international relations of the Crown Dependencies.
“We have been working closely with the EU and the government of Jersey on fisheries access provisions following the end of the transition period for licensing,” the spokesman added.