PARIS (Reuters) -The Channel Island of Jersey said on Monday it had agreed to a three-month extension to post-Brexit transition arrangements to allow some French vessels to keep fishing in its waters while negotiations over licences continue.
A dispute over the licences flared in the spring. Both France and Britain sent patrol vessels off the shores of Jersey – a self-governing British Crown Dependency – after a flotilla of French fishing boats sailed to the island in protest.
An interim accord had been due to expire on June 30. Under the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, French fishing vessels are required thereafter to prove the ‘extent and nature’ of past fishing activity for access to be granted.
Many French fishermen say their small boats do not carry the electronic equipment to do this. Jersey said 177 such vessels would be able to keep fishing off its shores while negotiations continued.
“We are offering this extension to the amnesty period to allow the continuation of discussions,” Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, said in a statement.
The amnesty means that until the end of September there will be a suspension on stating the number of days previously fished in Jersey waters and the type of gear used as conditions for access.
“We’re making progress!” tweeted France’s junior European minister, Clement Beaune. “We will continue to defend our fishermen, their interests, the future of (French) fishing.”
Jersey, which has rich fishing grounds, lies 14 miles (22 km) off northern France and 85 miles from Britain’s southern coast.
(Reporting by Richard Lough;Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Gareth Jones and Kevin Liffey)