UPDATED 9:45 AM PT – Thursday, May 6, 2021
The British government is sending the Royal Navy close to the Channel Islands in its latest fishing dispute with France. On Wednesday, 10 Downing Street said Boris Johnson spoke with top French officials to deescalate the dispute and called for dialogue on fishing quotas. However, French fishermen complained the U.K. is “too slow” to issue fishing licenses.
The Channel Islands are British crown dependencies off the northern coast of France. The dispute reignited in the wake of Brexit as the U.K. is seeking to defend its quotas and a clear boundary in fishing waters. The French are now threatening to cut off electricity to the Isle of Jersey, the largest of the islands, but the U.K. is not backing down.
— natacha butler (@natachabut) May 6, 2021
“Both sides and David Frost and, of course, his counterparts now continue to work together to make sure that operationally on the ground we iron out any issues, any problems,” stated Nadhim Zahawi, Member of Parliament. “So that this historic deal between the United Kingdom and the EU, one of the most important deals we have struck…works for people, for communities, for the fishing communities, for other people.”
According to reports Thursday, France deployed two maritime patrol boats to the region following the British Navy’s deployment to the area late Wednesday. The move came after French fishing boats sailed to the waters off Jersey to protest over fishing rights.
The island can regulate control of the boats, however, French fishermen want conditions removed from their fishing licenses. French authorities said Paris won’t be intimidated by the British.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Johnson asserted the French blockade of Jersey is not justified and the conflict could be resolved by a simple agreement. He has pledged “unequivocal support” for the island.