Guernsey fishermen concerned about access to French waters after Brexit

Commercial fishermen in Guernsey say there is uncertainty over access to French waters after Brexit.

When the UK left the EU on Friday, the London Fisheries Convention - which allowed French fishermen to access Bailiwick waters and vice versa - ended.

Guernsey States has now introduced new regulation which it says will "ensure continuity of access for the remainder of 2020 for French vessels who previously fished in Bailiwick waters".

But some Guernsey fishermen have claimed that French authorities are placing restrictions on them.

This is an important step to assist the negotiations during this year and to ensure that we protect our good neighbourhood relationship with France and in particular Normandy.

Deputy Gavin St Pier, The President of the Policy & Resources Committee

French vessels will need new documents issued by Guernsey and authorised by France to fish in Bailiwick waters.

They will mirror the condition in the London Fisheries Convention, and will only apply during the Transition Period, until the end of 2020.

Our trading relationship with France is important, particularly in terms of landing fish into Normandy.

Deputy Charles Parkinson, The President of the Committee for Economic Development
Guernsey Fisheries is holding a meeting this evening at Beau Sejour to brief the island's fishermen on the new plans. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Guernsey Fisheries is holding a meeting this evening at Beau Sejour to brief the island's fishermen on the new plans.

Fisherman Peter Munro says he is not taking his trawler into French waters as planned this week, as he is unsure if he can land his catch. He says the States assured him nothing would change after Brexit.

Following the States of Guernsey announcing the regulations, Jersey's government says they do not apply to Jersey waters.

These regulations do not cover Jersey Waters, or Jersey vessels licensed to fish in Guernsey Waters, nor do they affect French fishing vessels' access to Jersey Waters. Access by fishing vessels is covered by Jersey legislation and the Bay of Granville Agreement, which remain in force regardless of the UK's exit from the EU on Friday.

Deputy John Young, Minister for Environment

Jersey Fishing Association is meeting with the island's ministers this week to discuss future plans.

We've always gone down the route of open discussion and conversation, and continue to respect the rights of French fishermen. There will be changes but it will be done through the formal routes, with respect for fishermen with a genuine need for rights of access. For now the status quo continues.

Don Thompson, Jersey Fishing Association