Two naval armed ships are being dispatched to Jersey from the UK while the island and France have an ongoing dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights and concerns over the prospect of a blockade.
Two offshore patrol vessels will “monitor the situation” after French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin warned Tuesday that the country was ready to take “retaliatory measures” after accusing the Channel Island of shoving its feet over granting French licenses Having pulled boats.
Up to 100 French fishing vessels are reported to arrive in Jersey on Thursday to take part in a protest at the restrictions.
The Department of Defense confirmed Wednesday that HMS Severn and HMS Tamar are being used as a “strict precautionary measure” agreed with the Jersey government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Jersey Prime Minister Senator John Le Fondre and Foreign Secretary Ian Gorst on Wednesday, “underscoring his unwavering support” for the island.
Britain and Jersey have already criticized France for making “disproportionate” threats after Paris warned against shutting off electricity to the island.
Jersey, a self-governing krona addiction, gets 95% of its electricity from France via three undersea cables.
The dispute came after the island introduced new requirements for boats under the UK-EU trade agreement to provide evidence of their previous fishing activities and obtain a license to operate in Jersey waters.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister and Prime Minister stressed the urgent need to de-escalate tensions and establish a dialogue between Jersey and France on access to fisheries.
“The Prime Minister underscored his unwavering support for Jersey. He said that any blockade was totally unjustified. As a precautionary measure, the UK will send two offshore patrol vessels to oversee the situation.
“They agreed that the UK and Jersey governments will continue to work closely on this issue.”
On Wednesday, Gorst held talks with Marc Lefevre, President of the La Manche region in northern France, on the “difficult issues related to fishing licenses”.
“There are a number of important matters that we will continue to work on,” he said.
Girardin informed the French parliament that it had given Paris the “means” to take action against the island if the problem could not be resolved.
“Even though I’m sorry it came to this, we will if we have to,” she said.
However, Gorst said the island had not attempted to lock down boats that had historically fished in Jersey waters and insisted the dispute could be settled amicably.
He said that of the 41 boats that applied for licenses under the new rules last Friday, all but 17 had provided the necessary evidence.
“The trade deal is clear, but I think there has been some confusion about how to implement it because we absolutely respect the historic rights of French fishermen to fish in Jersey waters as they have been doing for centuries,” said he.
“I think a solution can be found. I am optimistic that we can allocate additional time for this evidence to be presented. “
He said the Jersey government has now sought permission from London and Brussels to speak directly to the French fishermen concerned in order to resolve the issue.