France fishing row: Jersey seafood company forced to close as dispute over post-Brexit licences drags on

·2-min read

A company that exports shellfish from Jersey into the EU has been forced to close temporarily and stop buying from local fishermen due to the ongoing row over fishing rights.

The director of Aqua-Mar, Nathalie Porritt, estimates the company usually exports more than 60% of the shellfish caught by fishermen from the Channel Islands into Europe.

But on Monday a notice went up on the company's door reading: "We very much regret we are closed for landings until further notice."

Inside, tanks that are usually full of lobster and crab stood mostly empty.

"We've been told that as of midnight tonight the border inspection post at St Malo will be closed until further notice," Ms Porritt told Sky News.

"I think everybody is very worried, so are we. We've been in business for 40-plus years and never once have we had to close our doors to exporting into Europe.

"We've explored other avenues, we've looked at different ports of entry, we've looked at going into Holland, we've looked at going into Spain.

"But geographically, because of our location, these are just posing really, really difficult [problems] logistically - verging on the lines of impossible."

France has threatened to close its ports to vessels after the UK and Jersey denied permits to dozens of French boats to operate in their waters.

The Jersey Fishermen's Association (JFA) is now calling for fishing areas to be closed altogether until the row is resolved.

"It seems wholly unfair that we're tied up in the harbour with their ports blocked and they're carrying on with their continued access," Stephen Viney from the JFA told Sky News.

"It only seems fair that we close our waters.

"Morale is low and we're angry that we're in the middle of this - we feel like banging Boris's and Macron's heads together - sort it out."

For the fishermen, these are worrying times.

Skipper Jack Bailey usually sells 90% of his fish to Aqua-Mar but he now has lobster he's unable to sell and fears livelihoods are being threatened by the stand-off.

"With not having access to the EU market a lot of the fishermen will find it very hard to carry on," he said.

"Honestly, I don't think there will be a future if it carries on the way it's going."

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