‘Couldn’t write it!’ Jersey fishing boss points out huge error in Brexit deal punishing UK

Jersey: Don Thompson reveals how fishermen have ‘lost’

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Don Thompson spoke to Express.co.uk about the fishing licence dispute in Jersey where French fishers have demanded access to the waters. The UK and France have had a political falling out over the issue after the UK Government denied a large portion of French boats from operating in UK waters. But Mr Thompson revealed his one of his biggest gripes with the post-Brexit deal which involved the categorisation of UK waters as he noted he operates alongside European boats in the same waters but their catches are defined differently as Class A rather than Class B.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Thompson could not understand the issues surrounding the UK’s class B waters considering he and other Jersey fishermen are using the same waters.

Shellfish caught from Class B waters require purification before they can land in Europe but the fishing boss noted many French boats do not have this issue despite operating in the same waters as he does.

He explained: “We got a written document from the head of veterinarian health services in Brittany.

“Stating that they considered that all the areas of their boats, Brittany boats, are Category A waters.

“They have to be category A because otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to land their scallops – they land quite a lot of scallops from our waters.

“And the Commission insists that our waters are Category B so we can’t export our bivalves.

“You just couldn’t write such a bizarre story to say that depending on the nationality of the boat, and our boats are fishing alongside French boats.

“But depending on the nationality and the registration on the boat the waters are either Category B or Category A.”

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Mr Thompson added he has heard from some people in France who do not agree with the Commission’s categorisation.

The fishing boss was furious the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) which came in after Brexit has provided very little for Jersey fishers.

Jersey fishermen are angry after they continue to fight with their French counterparts over fishing licences.

As part of the post-Brexit agreement, French boats could only operate in Jersey waters if they could prove they have historically operated there.

But administration issues meant many boats lacked the correct documents to prove they have worked in the waters with French boats protesting in the waters around St Helier earlier this year.

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The UK Government has allowed several extensions to the grace period to allow French boats to process their applications but tensions flared up once more when a large majority of applications were recently rejected.

A large portion of French boats has been denied access to UK waters to fish with only 12 of 47 boats being granted licences last month.

Jersey also rejected 75 out of 170 applications, furthering tensions.

France is already considering sanctions on the UK if licences are not granted with tariffs on electricity to Jersey being implemented.

UK boats could also be blocked from landing at French ports.

Mr Thompson told Express.co.uk despite many boats being rejected already, the French fleet is nearly three times the size of the domestic Jersey one.

He stressed locals were already competing with each other over limited stocks with the additional French fleet causing havoc for their businesses.

Mr Thompson also revealed his solution to the problem which would be providing reciprocal licences for Jersey fishers to operate in French waters.

He also suggested waiving the ban on UK shellfish so it can land in the EU.

Waters from third countries, those outside the European Union, are automatically classed as Class B.

This means shellfish cannot be landed on the continent without being treated in expensive purification tanks, something which also drastically shortens the shelf life of the catch.

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