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'Political Commitment' Reached On Fishing Rights

European boats that had permission to fish in Jersey waters before Brexit will still have that right until the end of April 2021.

A transition arrangement has been reached after talks between Senator Ian Gorst and the EU's Fisheries Commissioner.

Until that date, Jersey can issue licences to vessels that qualify under the Trade Cooperation Agreement.

The official line is that they'll be granted based on previous track records.

An official statement was published on social media by External Relations Minister.

Don Thompson from the Jersey Fishermen's Association told Scrutiny before the announcement that the French are putting on pressure to get as many vessels into Jersey waters as possible.

"I think the latest figures are that 57 permits have been issued. There are another 115 pending and the French fishermen are certainly driving to get all of those extra 115 through.

"The criteria is quite clear that all French applicants have to provide the proof of having fished in our waters for 11 days in any one of the three years in the track record period.

"We have been through that process ourselves when Guernsey's Licencing Authority was extended from 3 to 12 miles. A really similar situation, whereas previously Jersey boats just had automatic access to those waters, we had to prove a track record.

"At the time, there were 165 fishing vessels in Jersey and only 18 actually managed to provide sufficient proof and I was one of the ones who spent practically a lifetime fishing in the Bailiwick waters. I just didn't get it across the line.

"We've seen a licencing authority does have that ability to make it a condition that you do have to provide the evidence.

"I don't think there is an argument that because 57 have got through that the other 115 can automatically just expect Jersey to find their data for them."

There has been a lot of tension between Jersey and French fishermen over access to fishing rights, with particular frustration from the Jersey side over the Bay of Granville agreement.

Local fishermen marched through Jersey in February 2020, in protest at the treaty which gave French fishermen more permits.

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