ROYAL NAVY TO PATROL JERSEY WATERS AS FISHING DISPUTE DEEPENS
UK to send two Royal Navy ships to Jersey after France threatens blockade of island port Royal Navy to Patrol Jersey Waters as Fishing Dispute Deepens
The UK is sending two Royal Navy patrol vessels to monitor a protest in waters around Jersey’s main port amid a fishing rights row with France, writes the BBC.
PM Boris Johnson said “any blockade would be completely unjustified” as over 100 French fishing boats prepared to sail to the island today.
It follows a threat by France to cut off Jersey’s electricity over new post-Brexit rules for French fishing boats.
No 10 said sending the Navy vessels was a “precautionary measure”.
HMS Severn is currently heading towards the waters off Jersey’s port of St Helier. HMS Tamar will follow later.
HMS Severn has previously been used to shadow Russian navy warships off the English coast, and the ships are routinely used for fisheries protection – with sailors able to board other boats for spot checks.
On Wednesday night, Mr Johnson pledged his “unwavering support” for Jersey, the largest Channel Island and a Crown dependency, located 14 miles (22km) off France.
Earlier, he had held talks with Jersey’s Chief Minister John Le Fondré and Minister of External Affairs Ian Gorst, and “stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions” between Jersey and France.
Senator Gorst told the BBC the threats from Paris were “disproportionate” but he was expecting a “peaceful demonstration” by French fisherman on Thursday morning.
He said Jersey took “a threat to blockade our harbour very seriously” but insisted the “resolution has to be through diplomacy”.
Having held talks with the president of the La Manche region of northern France, Marc Lefevre, on Wednesday, Mr Gorst said there were a number of issues which “we will continue to work through”.
The AFP news agency reported that about 100 French fishing vessels would sail to Jersey’s port on Thursday as part of a protest against the new rules, quoting the head of fisheries for the Normandy region, Dimitri Rogoff.