Fishing license: the situation is now “stable”, according to the minister
ALL Jersey temporary fishing licenses for French fishermen expired this morning but the diplomatic situation remains “stable”, according to the Minister for the Environment.
MP John Young said the government must now put the dispute in the past and focus on negotiations of the ‘nature and scope’ clause. The clause governs which species EU fishermen can target, which gear they can deploy and how much they can catch.
The JEP asked the government how many temporary licenses were in force before the deadline – which expired at the end of January – but received no response at press time. However, by the end of December, around 30 temporary licenses and 130 permanent licenses had been granted.
Tensions have erupted numerous times over the past 12 months, including when around 60 French boats blocked the port of St Helier in May last year.
Deputy Young said: “I think we really hope at this stage, after all the intense efforts of the Marine Resources team and the tremendous amount of work from the UK and EU, that we are finally arrived at a final position One hundred and thirty licenses have been issued and these licenses are in force and the fishermen who have received them know it.
“It now allows us to move on to the question of nature and extent and that is now what all of our minds are focused on.”
Deputy Young added that there was currently no evidence that French vessels not meeting the conditions for a license were operating illegally in Jersey waters and that the position remained “stable”.
Last week, France’s Minister for Europe, Clément Beaune, reiterated his threat that his government could take legal action against the UK and Jersey if it did not issue more permanent licenses for island waters. .
Deputy Young said: “We have heard reports that the French are seeking to ask the EU to invoke the [Brexit agreement] arbitration mechanisms, but that has not happened and that is really good news. This has been the case throughout the dispute.
“I think the thing we have to do is say we put all of this behind us because it hasn’t been invoked. I believe all the meetings they had with the EU, the technical committees… they all confirmed Jersey’s decisions that he made on licensing.
“It’s a very good result.”