Jersey faces blackout as fishing row with France escalates

Jersey fishing row between UK and France escalates. [Shutterstock/Melanie Hobson]

The Channel island of Jersey has become the unlikely centre of the wider row over access to fishing waters between the UK and France, with the government in Paris on Tuesday threatening that electricity supply to the island could be stopped.

A tax haven with an economy based around off-shore financial services, Jersey is a British Crown Dependence but is not part of the UK, and its autonomous government last week granted 41 permits to French fishing vessels. However, the French government has complained that the permits include conditions on where the vessels can go and how long they can be at sea.

The UK government says that access to Jersey’s fishing waters is a matter for its government. Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said that these demands were unacceptable and that France “would take retaliatory measures if we have to”.

Asked whether these could include stopping supply from the three underwater cables which provide 95% of Jersey’s electricity, Girardin replied: “I would regret it if we were to get there,” but “we will do so if we have to.”

The UK and France have been battling over access to fishing waters for several months, with French Europe Minister Clément Beaune accusing the UK of blocking access to French vessels and arguing that the EU could respond by denying the UK access to the bloc’s financial service markets.

(Benjamin Fox | EURACTIV.com)

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