Guernsey-France fishing dispute caused by Brexit confusion

Fishing boats
Image caption Guernsey fishermen have been advised to avoid trying to sell their catch in France while the dispute is ongoing

A fishing dispute between Guernsey and France occurred because the UK failed to inform of Brexit-related changes in time, a senior politician claimed.

Guernsey introduced fishing permits for foreign vessels on 31 January after the London Fisheries Convention ceased to apply following Brexit.

As a result no French fishing boats are currently operating in Guernsey, Alderney and Sark waters.

French authorities condemned the "ban" on its fishermen operating there.

Guernsey fishermen said they have been told "under no circumstances" are they to land in France to sell their catch as a result of the dispute.

Minister for External Affairs Jonathan Le Tocq said: "The issue arises from us not being informed by the UK that this would be an issue for us."

'Stall their catch'

After the UK left the EU on 31 January, Guernsey was forced to introduce permits because it was no longer party to the London Fisheries Convention, which governs access to waters for its signatories.

Mr Le Tocq said the disruption had been caused by the fact Guernsey was informed "only 10 days" before 31 January that it was not covered by EU regulation and it would be illegal for French fisherman to operate there.

"Britain hasn't got to [introduce fishing permits] because it's still operating under the transition period," Mr Le Tocq added.

Image caption Guernsey fisherman have been discouraged from attempting to sell their catch in France

Fisherman Dougal Lane said the dispute affected the industry "dramatically" and he hoped it would be resolved by the end of the week.

"It should only affect the wet fish boats, the shellfish boats... can stall their catch for a week or so.

"But the wet fish boats have to sell our catch within three or four days," Mr Lane added.

French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume told the National Assembly both governments had worked on the dispute "all weekend and again [Tuesday] morning".

"I can now say that a solution has been found and that in coming hours French fishermen will be able to continue to fish in Guernsey waters," he added.

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