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Royal Navy vessels head for port after French protests off Jersey subside

About 60 French vessels gathered around St Helier in protest at the Jersey government’s approach to issuing fishing licences.

French fishing vessels staging a protest outside the harbour at St Helier, Jersey
French fishing vessels staging a protest outside the harbour at St Helier, Jersey
Image: PA Images

Updated May 6th 2021, 7:24 PM

TWO ROYAL NAVY vessels sent to Jersey in response to a protest by French fishermen are to return to port.

About 60 French boats took part in the protest around the Channel Island’s main port, St Helier, in a dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights, before subsequently returning to port on Thursday.

Boris Johnson said he was “pleased that the situation in Jersey has been resolved” and thanked the Royal Navy for the swift response.

“The UK will always stand resolutely by the people of Jersey,” the Prime Minister said.

The authorities in Jersey have promised further talks to help resolve the row, but the French government hit out at a “British failure” to abide by the terms of the UK-EU trade deal and warned it would “use all the leverage at our disposal” to protect the fishing industry.

The European Union also accused Jersey of breaching the deal signed by the UK and Brussels.

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During a day of drama in the waters around the Channel Island, French vessels gathered to protest against the new licences they have been required to obtain from the Jersey government to carry on operating.

HMS Severn and HMS Tamar were deployed in response to fears the French boats could blockade St Helier, while the French maritime authority for the Channel sent two police vessels to the area “to ensure the protection of human life at sea”.

Local fishermen reported flares were let off and that some boats entered the harbour for about an hour, with footage posted online apparently showing a French boat ramming the rear of a Jersey vessel.

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