French maritime minister warns Paris could cut off Jersey’s power amid rolling post-Brexit fishing row

France is prepared to retaliate against new rules governing fishing near the Channel Islands – and could even go as far as leaving Jersey without electricity, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin has hinted.

During her appearance at the French parliament on Tuesday, Girardin insisted that the rules concerning UK waters were “completely unacceptable” and “null and void,” as they didn’t comply with the Brexit deal agreed and signed between London and Brussels last year, she said.

“In the agreement, there are retaliatory measures and we are ready to use them,” the minister warmed.

She also noted that Jersey, a self-governing British Crown Dependency, was powered by underwater cables coming from France, hinting that the supply of electricity could be cut off.

“I am sorry it has come to this, [but] we will do so if we have to,” she said.

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On Friday, Jersey authorized 41 vessels to fish in the waters off the largest of the Channel Islands, populated by more than 107,000 people. However, this was accompanied by a set of new rules that “were not arranged or discussed [with France], and which we were not notified about,” the French Fisheries Ministry told AFP.

Those measures effectively created new zoning rules for the waters near the island, while also limiting the number of days the fishermen could spend at sea and the types of machinery they could use, the ministry added.

The British government, meanwhile, has insisted that Jersey “is responsible for its own territorial waters”, according to a statement to the BBC.

Fishing has been one of the hardest fought issues during – and after – the Brexit negotiations.

In recent weeks, tensions have been mounting between London and Paris over access to the Channel area, with the French fishermen increasingly complaining over difficulties in obtaining licenses from the UK to work at their livelihoods.

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French fishermen hold a banner as they block lorries carrying UK-landed fish to protest for the slow issuance of licenses to fish inside British waters, at the fishing port in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, April 23, 2021 © REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
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Last month, a group of angry fishermen staged a protest at Boulogne, blockading trucks delivering UK-landed fish to France.

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