May 6 (UPI) — The British government said it has dispatched two Royal Navy patrol vessels to Jersey as tensions over fishing between the self-governing island and France mount.
In A declaration On Wednesday, a spokesman said the ships were being sent to the island, which is a British Crown dependency just off the coast of France in the English Channel, as a “precautionary measure” to “monitor the situation”.
The ships were sent following a discussion on Wednesday evening between Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Jersey Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondre and External Affairs Minister Ian Gorst “about the prospect of a blockade of Saint Helier”, which is the capital of the island, 10 says Downing Street.
French fishing boats planned a blockade of the port of Jersey on Thursday morning to protest new fishing licenses issued by the island which restrict the number of days they can access their waters, the local official said. Jersey Evening Post reported.
Post-Brexit fishing licenses for vessels from Normandy and Brittany were announced on Friday, prompting French National Assembly Sea Minister Annick Girardin to threaten to cut off the island’s electricity.
In response to the licenses, French diplomatic offices on the island will also close and the European country will stop imports.
“At no time during the many exchanges we had with Ian Gorst was there any question of additional criteria subject to the issuance of licenses,” French officials said in a statement reported by the Jersey Evening Post. “We ask the French government to intervene with the European Commission so that the conditions provided for in the trade and cooperation agreement are respected and applied.”
Marc Lefevre, President of the Manche Departmental Council, tweeted following a discussion with Gorst on Wednesday that their relationship of trust “is very seriously damaged”.
“It is unacceptable for Jersey to unilaterally set the terms of approval at odds with the terms of the treaty,” he said.
Later Wednesday, Le Fonder and Gorst said in a joint statement that they expect a peaceful demonstration by French demonstrators on Thursday morning.
“Diplomatic efforts will continue to resolve outstanding fishing licensing issues and to de-escalate the situation, and we will continue to liaise closely with UK and EU officials over the coming hours and days to reach a pragmatic solution,” they said.
Regarding the French threat to cut power, the pair said Jersey’s infrastructure would not be disrupted as local facilities “are capable of meeting our electricity needs in the event of an external cut”.
Johnson also expressed his “unwavering support for Jersey” and said “any blockade would be totally unjustified”, the 10 Downing Street spokesman said.
Gorst thanked him for his support via Twitter, his