Don Thompson, Chairman of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association claimed they were “not celebrating” the Brexit deal achieved by Boris Johnson on Christmas Eve. Jersey, which is not part of the UK, agreed earlier this month to back the deal between the UK and EU, however.
As part of the new deal, French vessels will still be allowed to fish in the islands’ waters due to a previous Treaty but the Crown Dependency will have the sole power to issue fishing licences.
Fishing in Jersey had previously been managed under the Treaty of the Bay of Granville which presided over the destinies of the fishing rights of French boats in Jersey waters since 1839.
French vessels with historical fishing activity in Jersey waters will continue to have access.
It is also expected French boats would outnumber Jersey ones with only 75 in the island fleet.
Mr Thompson added: “There’s generally a huge amount of disappointment around the fishing fleet.
“We will have a French fleet probably three times the size of our own continuing to fish in our waters.
“Fishermen are certainly not celebrating.”
Mr Thompson continued: “Even our fisheries officers genuinely thought that at the very least we should have been aiming for ways to go with the other two Crown Dependencies for a six-mile exclusion limit, with full management control and up to 12 miles.
“We’ve got an arrangement that takes us out of the Bay of Granville treaty, but effectively all the same levels of access, all the types of fishing – everything that was enshrined in the treaty – we have to preserve.
“We have sovereignty, but we have both hands tied behind our back.”
Deputy John Young, Jersey’s Environment Minister said there would be “reciprocal access” for the French because “some of our boats do access the French territorial waters and presumably will continue to do so”.
Meanwhile, Olivier Leprêtre, president of Hauts-de-France regional maritime fisheries committee claimed French fishermen were being forced to “start over with the British” due to Brexit.
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He said: “For three years, we have had the guillotine above our heads, wondering when it will fall. Fortunately, with this famous agreement – which is more or less good – we escape the guillotine.
“We may lose some of our hair, but that’s a lesser evil.
“So we are not going to complain but we must give ourselves the time to put everything in place.
“It doesn’t happen like that overnight.
“We are starting over with the British, and everything has to be done. Both access to water and the market, etc.
“There is a lot of work and it is obvious that professionals are a little afraid of the future.
“But we are there to put things in place.”