First Jersey fishing licences issued to French boats

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Fishing boats in Jersey
Image caption,
The Government of Jersey granted 41 licences to French fishing boats on Friday

Jersey has issued the first post-Brexit licences to allow large French fishing vessels to operate in its waters.

The Government of Jersey granted 41 permits on Friday, with 14 pending.

Since January, Jersey fisherman have struggled to land their catch in France, and a group of them blocked St Helier Harbour in protest last month.

To receive a licence under an agreement with the EU, French boat operators have to show a history of fishing in the area, the government explained.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), approved by the States Assembly on 23 April, required Jersey to issue licences to qualifying vessels.

An interim amnesty arrangement was agreed in January, allowing French boats over 12m (39ft) long to continue to fish while the system was set up.

That amnesty ended on Friday, with all boats now required to have approval to operate in the area.

'Traditional fishing activity'

The very first Jersey boat attempting to land in France in January was turned away over paperwork, with more experiencing problems in the months since.

During discussions with EU Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius on Friday, External Relations Minister Ian Gorst set out the "administrative difficulties" faced by the industry.

He said: "We will continue to engage with our French colleagues to ensure both Jersey and eligible French vessels are able to access the waters and fish them in a managed, responsible way."

Environment Minister John Young, who issued the licences, explained civil servants had been working "around the clock" to set up the system.

He said: "We want to maintain traditional fishing activity, while clearly at the same time ensuring fish stocks and the marine environment are protected and that fishing in the region is sustainable."

The government said it was supporting Jersey fishermen through financial assistance, marketing initiatives promoting local produce and "assistance with the logistics and technical requirements" of new agreements.

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