Jersey fishermen today started giving away their lobster hauls for free as the dispute over fishing rights with France escalated.
France issued a legal notice to British fishermen last night that they were no longer welcome into French ports after one Jersey boat was threatened with violence and turned back.
Fishermen at St Helier Port, which was blockaded by French rivals this week, said they had been left in a vicious cycle due to the dispute.
Gary Maranet, 33, skipper of a 26-foot boat, began emptying his lobster pots and giving the expensive fish away to the public.
He said: ‘Jersey fishermen like me are stuck and in a dead end.
‘We are running out of bait and if we had supplies there would be no point in fishing as the export to France where most of the fish ends up has been virtually stopped.
‘I have got lobster pots full of fish and they won’t live much longer as they have started eating each other I am giving them away free.’
Jersey fishermen today started giving away their lobster hauls for free as the dispute over fishing rights with France escalated. Fishermen Toby Greatbatch (pictured) spoke to Mailonline today after French fishing boats blocked St Helier harbour in Jersey this week
He pulled a lobster pot out of the water onto his boat and said: ‘There is around £200 worth of lobster here and they are going to perish. I am giving my lobster away for free.
‘The prices have also dropped from wholesalers who have stopped buying them as they can’t be taken to France.
‘Before it was the French guys stopping our boats berthing and off-loading, but now there is an official ban. We are all stuck.’
Another fisherman Wayne Auger, 46, said: ‘Nobody really knows how this is going to end.
‘The French want to fish on our waters and had this amnesty from our government after Brexit.
‘But we can pay sums like £60,000 for a licence and they pay nothing to fish alongside us.
‘Many of us are running out of bait for the lobster pots and won’t be fishing because we can’t sell the fish to France and the local need isn’t that big.’
Pictured: Phil Morant (left) and Wayne Auger, spoke to the Mail Online today, saying Fisherman are unsure how the saga will end, but that they are running out of supplies for fishing
Those fishermen who off-loaded their supplies of lobster and other top quality fish at slashed prices to Jersey stores saw their income slashed by around 25 per cent.
They were being paid around £15-a-kilo and local fish stores were selling them for around £20-a-kilo.
Before the blockade and the row over fishing rights, restaurants would pay around £25 for a kilo of lobster but prices were slashed as Jersey tried to clear a glut of fish stock.
Some fishermen warned they faced going out of business if the ban was prolonged.
Fish supplies, which would normally be served up for the French palate, have piled up at the Jersey port.
One fisherman Steph Nole, 52, who has been based in the port for more than 30 years, said his future was threatened due to the impasse.
Mr Nole has not taken his 24-foot boat Contender on the water since last weekend and today sold his lobster and crab to a local business at the port for re-sale to the public.
One fisherman Steph Nole, 52 (pictured), who has been based in the port for more than 30 years, told the Mail Online on Friday his future was threatened due to the impasse
He was given £15 per kilo of lobster which is around a quarter less than usual.
‘It is a terrible situation that everyone is in and the government needs to sort it out quickly.
‘I have got a mortgage and have paid £30,000 for a fishing licence and pay £500-a-month for bait. If I cannot sell the fish there is no point in catching them.
‘There is also the cost of diesel. But there is little chance of me making any money from fishing right now.
‘I normally fish most days. But many fishermen like me are not taking their boats out as there is a glut of fish being held up and they cannot sell.
‘My last fish was last weekend and I have sold the crab and lobster for £200 today and they will be taken into a shop and sold to the public whereas normally a fish exporter would take them and sell them onto France.
‘But the French are not letting our boats dock there and offload and when they blocked our port , it became even more difficult.
‘I can understand why the French are upset as after Brexit they were allowed an amnesty to carry on fishing and now that agreement or treaty has ended, they are in uproar.
‘They like fishing in our waters as we are so close to them. I have nothing against them personally. But I can’t afford for this situation to go on much longer and it could be put people like me out of business.
‘This needs to be sorted out very quickly by all the various authorities involved. We don’t want any more blocking of Jersey port.’
Pictured: Fishing trawlers in Jersey. France issued a legal notice to British fishermen last night that they were no longer welcome into French ports after one Jersey boat was threatened with violence and turned back
Tommy Radiguet, head chef at the upmarket Samphire restaurant in Jersey said: ‘ We haven’t had lobster on the menu for a while as it has been expensive.
‘But with the price dropping, I can see it being restored to our menu and I expect to pay 25 per cent less than the usual £25 a kilo.
‘We always try and support Jersey fishermen and give our guests the best fish.’
The standoff came after some French boats were refused licences to fish in Jersey’s waters under post-Brexit rules.
Fisherman Toby Greatbatch, 31, who runs a shop as well as operates a boat, said: ‘Lots of British boats have stopped fishing because of the state we are in with the French.
‘I have decided it isn’t worth fishing. I am buying fish from the other guys for now and selling it in my shop to the public this weekend.’
Pictured: Samphire restaurant, in Jersey today after French fishing boats blocked St Helier harbour in Jersey
Tommy Radiguet, head chef at the upmarket Samphire restaurant in Jersey said: ‘ We haven’t had lobster on the menu for a while as it has been expensive
He said the Jersey fisherman did not have any beef with the French fishing boats which blocked Jersey port this week.
‘I am sure if we were in their situation, we would have done the same. Unfortunately Brexit has caused all these problems. It is not anybody’s fault as far as fishermen are concerned. The government needs to find a solution pretty quick.’
Fisherman Andrew Walsh, 26, added: ‘I hope the problem is over soon It mustn’t be allowed to go on for even a few days. Peoples’ livelihoods are at stake’
There were rumours that French fishermen might turn their attention to the English Channel at Calais and attempt a blockade there as well as counter-claim that British boats might head them off near Calais.
But John Stanford, 34, said: ‘That would be so ridiculous on both sides. That would just harm the fishing business even more as well as the cargo ships. I don’t see it happening at all. I hope it doesn’t come to that.’
As disclosed by Mail Online, one British fisherman did attempt to deliver an order to the French port of Carteret but was bullied and threatened and forced to turn back yesterday with his £4000 order of Cuttlefish.
Fisherman Andrew Walsh, 26, told the Mail Online: ‘I hope the problem is over soon It mustn’t be allowed to go on for even a few days. Peoples’ livelihoods are at stake’
Instead of dumping the load at sea as was expected, he returned to Jersey last night and gave the load away to locals after posting a Facebook message inviting people to help themselves.
Jason Bonhomme told Jersey residents: ‘Hi People. I am on my way back from France after being refused to land If anyone wants some cuttlefish free before it spoils…400 kilo going free. Bring bags and buckets as it would be a shame to see it spoil.’
Shellfish exporters Aqua-Mar which is based on Victoria Pier has full tanks with about £40,000 of lobster and brown and spider crab which was meant to reach St Malo in Brittany.
The staff said they expected stock to perish and be wasted because of the delays and were examining the possibility of re-routing stocks to parts of Europe via England.
Jersey remained quiet today after the French boats which blocked St Helier retreated following the arrival of two Navy gunships to patrol the area and the island maintained its French supply of electricity despite French minister Annick Girardin warning Paris could cut off power.
The Prime Minister and President Macron are understood to be speaking in the next few days to try to solve the dispute and calm the troubled waters on both sides.
A fisherman in Jersey cleans lobster on Friday. Fishermen at St Helier Port, which was blockaded by French rivals this week, said they had been left in a vicious cycle due to the dispute between Britain and France
President of Jersey Fishermen’s Association Don Thompson said there had been ‘some pretty extreme threats’ from the French.
‘Our expectations were that things probably weren’t going to get out of hand, but on the other hand if you consider a Government-level threat to sever electricity ties that would have meant hospitals being shut down,’ he said.
‘In other parts of the world if something like that happened to Iran or Russia or other countries, other states, that would be considered almost an act of war.’
Mr Thompson added: ‘The real hardship genuinely is on this side and I’m seeing my colleagues going out of business, fishermen that have done nothing else all their life, made a commitment to the industry since they were very young, having to sell their boats and walk away from the industry.’
He called for a ‘show of good faith from France’ in what is a ‘highly political’ situation affected by the repercussions of the Brexit referendum.
‘Jersey people didn’t even vote, didn’t even have the right to vote in Brexit. Everything that’s happened here in the way that we’ve become a third world state is entirely by default and it’s really unfortunate that we seem to be coming under the spotlight and being accused of using the Brexit scenario to our advantage when actually the opposite is true.’
The first physical standoff ensued when a flotilla of tiny French fishing vessels took to Jersey where the Royal Navy ships met them.
Pictured: Fishing vessels at sea off the coast of Jersey, Thursday, May 6, 2021. French fishermen angry over loss of access to waters off their coast gathered their boats in protest off the English Channel island of Jersey. Britain sent two warships to police the protests
Pictured: The HMS Tamar patrolling the waters outside of the port at St Hellier, Jersey after it was blockaded by French fishing boats on Thursday
HMS Tamar and HMS Severn returned to the mainland after the retreat by the French vessels.
The dispute worsened today when France officially banned Jersey fishermen from off-loading their catch at its ports of Carteret, Granville and Dielette.
Officials in Le Manche have told the Government that boats from Jersey will no longer be allowed to off-load their fish in the region until the dispute is sorted.
Jersey External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said: ‘ We regret this action and don’t believe it is compliant with the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
‘For that reason we will refer the notice of this decision immediately to the European Commission.’