Our fishermen stopped from landing catches in Cherbourg

FRANCE has been warned that breaching the post-Brexit fishing deal with Guernsey will have consequences.

(Picture: Thomas Pesquet, 30278500)
(Picture: Thomas Pesquet, 30278500)

Policy & Resources external relations lead Jonathan Le Tocq has been closely following the latest stand-off, which has seen Bailiwick fishermen told they were forbidden to land catches at Cherbourg.

It comes after Guernsey granted its first 40 French fishermen applications to allow them to fish in local waters. There had been 58 applications made.

‘We are engaging with the national and regional French authorities, including the Normandy fishing committee, to express our serious concern about the actions of what seems like one individual undermining the TCA,’ Deputy Le Tocq said.

‘Should the terms of the TCA be breached there are express provisions relating to dispute resolution that will be followed.’

Policy & Resources has highlighted that a lot of the recent coverage in French media has been broadly positive of Guernsey’s position, and that the tension in Cherbourg is mainly around one individual.

The market authorities in Cherbourg sent an email to local fishermen at the weekend, barring them from landing at the quay there.

It followed a blockade in Cherbourg on Thursday night, when an Alderney fisherman was turned away.

Pierro Le Cheminant, who owns the biggest trawler in Guernsey, said he felt distraught by what was happening.

‘We’re sat in the harbour now with fish aboard the boat that we can’t sell,’ he said yesterday.

‘We could go to Brixham but the weather is too bad at the moment. We can’t continue like this, we just can’t. I feel, and most of the fishermen feel now, that we should let the French keep their market but we’ll keep the fish inside of our 12 miles, and then we would land in the UK, so let them keep their market but have no access for French boats inside the 12 miles.’

Mr Le Cheminant employs four staff, who need to be paid.

‘It is drastic but we’ve got nothing to lose anymore, we can’t continue our business like this,’ he said.

‘Cherbourg is a very important market for us, but if they’re not allowing us to land, why should they continue to have access?’

The main instigator of Thursday night’s blockade is understood to be the owner of five Cherbourg-based large trawlers, two of which did not receive licenses.

Mr Le Cheminant said he had received messages of support from other French fishermen over the weekend, telling him that they had not backed the blockade.

After receiving the notification from the Cherbourg market authorities Mr Le Cheminant reached out to some deputies.

He believed the French have already broken the deal.

‘There’s got to be two sides to a deal and the French always just want one side,’ he said.

‘Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq told me that he was notifying the French officials on Saturday night and I know things are in motion. His words to me were that if this was to continue he would be revoking the interim licences.

‘Those are the licences to French boats to fish between now and 1 February. It’s only 40 that’s allowed after the 1 February. We want that with immediate effect because we can’t land.

‘I just hope that Jonathan Le Tocq sticks to his words.’

A key criteria for qualifying vessels in the new agreement was that they had to show evidence of a track record of fishing in Bailiwick waters.

Vessels which had their licence applications rejected are allowed to re-apply if they can provide additional data.

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