Two Royal Navy ships have been sent to Jersey amid a possible blockade of the island by French boats – but why have they been deployed?
Sky News looks at what triggered the tensions and how the series could escalate.
The UK has deployed HMS Severn and HMS Tamar to Jersey to conduct “maritime security patrols” as a “strict precautionary measure” following talks with the Jersey government, the Department of Defense has said.
SEE: BRITISH ROYAL MARINES TESTING JETPACKS WHICH CAN REACH SPEEDS OF 80 MPH
HMS Severn went back into operation in June last year – after being rescued from the scrap yard ̵
HMS Tamar came into operation in December last year as one of five new offshore patrol vessels.
Meanwhile, France has sent its own patrol vessel to Jersey to “guarantee the safety” of people at sea and “accompany” French fishing vessels.
Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, is a British Crown dependency and is defended and internationally represented by the British Government.
It is located just 14 miles off the French coast and 85 miles south of the English coast.
TOURIST SURVIVES 120-FOOT FALL OF CLIFF TAKING SELFIE, THE FOLLOWING TIME WAS IN: REPORT
Why has the Royal Navy been sent?
The ships were deployed amid concerns over a possible blockade of Jersey by French boats.
As of Thursday morning, up to 60 ships were reported off the south coast of Jersey near the island’s capital, St. Louis. Helier, as part of a demonstration by French fishermen.
Some escaped flares, but the protest has so far remained peaceful, according to the Jersey Evening Post.
FRENCH REPORTER KIDNAPPED BY JIHADIST REBELS IN NORTH MALI
There had been concerns about more direct action by the protesters.
Paul Luxon, CEO of Condor Ferries, posted on Twitter that the Commodore Goodwill freight ferry had been “caught” in St. Louis. Helier harbor.
However, it was later reported that the ship would be allowed to leave.
Downing Street has said any blockade would be “completely unjustified”.
Why are French fishermen protesting?
French fishing crews demonstrate as part of a series of post-Brexit fishing rights.
Under the Brexit trade agreement, which entered into force on 1 January, EU fishermen will continue to have certain rights to fish in British waters as part of a transitional period until 2026.
Under the new rules, EU boats wishing to fish within 20km of the UK coast must be licensed and prove that they have a history of fishing in these waters in order to continue operations.
This includes submitting proof of their previous fishing activities.
Jersey has not granted licenses to any of the boats that have applied for fish in its waters.
MAY DAY PROTESTORS IN PARIS REQUIRE MORE JOB PROTECTION IN THE MIDDLE OF PANDEMI
Ian Gorst, the island’s minister of external relations, said of the 41 boats applying for licenses under the new rules last Friday that all but 17 had provided the required evidence.
“The trade agreement is clear, but I think there has been some confusion about how it should be implemented because we absolutely respect the historic rights of French fishermen to fish in Jersey waters, as they have done for centuries,” he said.
“I actually think a solution can be found. I’m optimistic that we can give extra time to provide this evidence.”
The French government has also expressed its anger over what it said were unilaterally imposed conditions on fishing licenses, including the time French fishing vessels could spend in Jersey’s waters.
Jersey said they had issued permits in accordance with the terms of the post-Brexit trade agreement.
MANCHESTER UNITED FANS INVADE STADIUM, PROTEST GLAZER OWNERSHIP OF SUPER LEAGUE SUPPORT
Could the series escalate further? Could the light go out on Jersey?
French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin warned this week that her country was ready to take “retaliatory measures” over the fisheries dispute.
This included a threat that France could cut off power to Jersey, which – with a population of 100,000 people – receives 95% of its electricity from France through three submarine cables.
And Mrs Girardin told the French Parliament this week: “In the (Brexit) agreement, there are retaliatory measures. Well, we are ready to use them.
“As for Jersey, I remind you of the supply of electricity along submarine cables. While it would be unfortunate if we had to do that, we do it if we have to.”
However, the Jersey government has assured residents that the island’s “important infrastructure will not be disconnected as local facilities are able to meet our power requirements in the event of an external outage”.
When the current fisheries transition period between the EU and the UK ends in 2026, there is also the possibility of further tensions when both parties go to annual negotiations to determine how fish stocks are shared between them.
Have there been fishing disputes before?
During the United Kingdom’s 47-year membership of the EU, fishing rights were decided as part of the bloc’s common fisheries policy.
Before that, however, there had been so-called “cod wars” between Icelandic and British fishing vessels from 1958 to 1976.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
These violent clashes were triggered by Iceland, which claimed control of the seas around the island.
The Royal Navy became involved in escorting British trawlers.
In what was baptized “Scallop War” in the summer of 2018, tensions erupted between French and British boats around Baie de Seine waters.