Jersey fishing boss reveals devious French tactic to defame island on boat licence snub

Jersey fishing boss opens up on rejected fishing licences

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Don Thompson who heads the Jersey Fishermen’s Association spoke to Express.co.uk about the ongoing fishing licence row between the UK and France and gave his verdict on why France is submitting so many bogus licence applications. Towards the end of September, the Jersey Government rejected 75 out of 170 applications which has enraged French fishers who are now threatening further protests around the island. But when asked why so many were rejected, Mr Thompson explained it was very easy to see these applications had zero weight and argued France sent them to simply make Jersey look bad so they could paint them as the enemy.

Speaking to Express.co.uk. Mr Thompson was asked for his verdict on the fishing licence dispute.

When asked why so many applications were sent to Jersey to be approved, Mr Thompson explained: “The Environment Minister, somebody I am quite close to, is himself absolutely fed up with with the political dimension of it.

“Because his attitude is, my job is I have a marine resource to look after as well as a terrestrial resource but my job is to look up to the marine resource.

“And external relations is pulling the rug out from under my feet.

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“He certainly didn’t want to have to issue so many licences to so many French boats.

“And, effectively, we looked at the list and every single boat that floats along the Cotentin Peninsula, which is the part of Normandy facing jersey.

“Every single boat from every port along there pretty much has got a licence.

“The 75 that have been rejected they were just chancers and if the French administration had a quick look at the data before it was sent to Jersey they would have seen that all it proves is they never came here at all.

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“Why even send the data through? And I suppose the answer is just to make Jersey look bad when it rejects a heap of boats that never did qualify.

“I really don’t understand why they sent the data through for those.”

As part of the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), French boats had a few months from January to resubmit their applications to fish in UK waters.

The hope was to put a cap on new boats operating in the water as only boats which have historically operated there could remain.

However, issues with applications meant dozens of French boats protested in the waters around St Helier and demanded access to Jersey waters.

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A grace period was granted which, at the time, Mr Thompson told Express.co.uk was just “kicking the can down the road”.

In September, the UK only allowed 12 of 47 applications to be approved with Jersey rejecting 75 out of 170 applications.

Jersey Environment Minister John Young also spoke to Express.co.uk about the licence clash and defended his government for following the rules of the TCA to the letter.

Mr Young added Jersey fishers did not want historic boats shut out of the waters but simply did not want to see anymore.

Mr Thompson claimed the French fleet was nearly five times as big as the domestic Jersey fleet which was already struggling with the fish stock between them.

Environment Secretary George Eustice shot down France’s antagonisms towards the UK and said 1,700 post-Brexit licences have been issued with 750 going to France alone.

Mr Thompson also told Express.co.uk he has had businesses refuse to take his haul because they were worried about French retaliation at the ports when they visited Jersey.

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