Fishing row: Jersey ‘being used as a pawn in political game’ between France and UK

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the opening ceremony for the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the opening ceremony for the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

Macron has warned that unless Britain made a 'significant move' to ease the dispute over fishing licences, France would retaliate.

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Jersey is being used as a “pawn in the political game between France and the UK” amid an ongoing row over fishing rights, the owner of a family business on the island has claimed.

Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron have been at loggerheads in recent days amid rising tensions over licences to fish in British waters.

On the island of Jersey – located less then 20 miles off the French coast – fishing is a fundamental part of life.

Much of the catch made by the local fishing fleet is shipped off to France and the wider EU, but many fishermen have become worried as the cross-Channel war of words goes on.

Tony Porritt, who has owned shellfish exporter Aqua-Mar Fisheries for more than 50 years, said the current situation is frustrating.

Speaking to the PA news agency in the Jersey capital St Helier, he said: “I think we are just being used as a pawn in the whole political game between France and the UK.

“It’s the French government, it’s political.

“We have navigated through Brexit, we have navigated through Covid and now we have got this.”

Mr Porritt told PA that on Monday he was forced to stop accepting any more shellfish from local fishermen amid fears they would not be able to make their exports to France.

Monday’s partial closure is just the second in the 50-year history of the family-owned business, following a small stint during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their large tanks used for storing live lobster and crab now stand mostly empty, a visible reminder of the ongoing fishing dispute.

His daughter Nathalie Porritt, company director, added: “We can’t afford to fill up the tanks.

“I have got the space but there’s no point filling them up to the top.”

Aqua-Mar Fisheries exports about eight tonnes of shellfish a week through the French port of St Malo, but the ongoing row has thrown this into jeopardy.

Ms Porritt said the Jersey government had been “more than fair” in issuing licences to French fishing boats.

Mr Macron has warned that unless Britain made a “significant move” to ease the dispute over licences to fish in British waters, Paris would introduce more stringent port and border checks from Tuesday.

Ms Truss said the UK would respond by triggering dispute resolution measures in the Brexit trade deal to seek “compensatory measures” if Mr Macron’s administration carries out its threats.