Jersey’s Home Affairs minister Gregory Guida told Sky News that there is no evidence to suggest that many French vessels applying for fishing licences have ever fished in UK waters before Brexit – a requirement for a licence to be granted. The scathing accusation comes amid a fierce row over fishing licences as the French claim they are not being granted their agreed number of passes, a row which has seen a Scottish trawler siezed by France and threats of a blockade on British boats.
Mr Guida slammed: “We have no hint whatsoever that the boats on the red list deserve a licence in Jersey, no hint!
“We have never seen them, we have never boarded them, no Jersey fisherman has ever seen them!”
And in a eye-opening revelation he claimed many of the boats who have had their licence applications rejected “have no paperwork” or “no data from their GPS’s” to suggest previous fishing experience in UK waters which is an absolute requirement if they wish to continue fishing.
He went on to slam how UK and Jersey authorities have “zero hint that they have been in the area” before accusing them of “trying their luck” in an audacious scam to get a fishing licence granted illegally.
The comments follow months of chaos in Britain’s waters following a post-Brexit agreement that stated the French must apply for new licences in order to continue to fish in the 6-to-12 nautical-mile zone of UK waters.
But carnage ensued after the UK said it had approved just 12 of the 47 applications it had received from small boats in France which sent the French into a rage. The chaos prompted French President Jean Castex to even threaten the UK by cutting “bi-lateral collaborations” on trade, immigration and migration.
Britain has denied that it has not been playing fairly while UK fishing licensing bodies have hit back claiming that a raft of French fishing boats did not correctly submit the evidence required to prove they have fished in British waters before Brexit.
The plans had already prompted French fishermen to blockade the port in Jersey back in May in protest at the decision.
But tensions hit breaking point on Wednesday evening after French authorities seized Scottish vessel The Cornelis Gert Jan, owned by MacDuff Shellfish of Scotland, off Le Havre, claiming the boat did not comply after being cautioned.
Hitting back at France’s seizure of the boat, Environment Secretary George Eustice sent a stark warning to President Macron, slamming: “We don’t know what they’ll do, they said they wouldn’t introduce these measures until Tuesday probably at the earliest so we will see what they do.
“But if they do bring these into place, well, two can play at that game and we reserve the ability to respond in a proportionate way!”
While Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested to Sky News’ Beth Rigby on Saturday that France could have breached a Brexit treaty and that he will “do whatever is necessary to protect British interests” if UK ministers believe the UK-EU trade agreement has been violated by the French with their actions to seize the boat.
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It comes as France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune had recently vowed to use the language of “strength” towards Britain over the fishing row.
He said: “We need to speak the language of force as I’m afraid it is the only thing this British government will understand.”
Tensions have further erupted as French President Emmanuel Macron accused the UK of doing “the opposite of what was decided” in the Withdrawal Agreement during a ferocious interview with the Financial Times on Saturday.
He went on to accuse Boris Johnson on u-turning on “the aspects that suit you the least” before slamming the move “is not a big sign of your credibility” as the fishing continues to rage.