The Channel Island of Jersey has become an unusual focus of a major dispute between the United Kingdom and France over access to fishing waters. The government in Paris indirectly threatened on Tuesday that even the island’s energy supply could be cut off.
Jersey is widely known as a tax haven whose economy is largely dependent on offshore financial services. The island is officially owned by the British Crown [British Crown Dependency]But it is not part of the UK.
The island’s independent government issued 41 permits for French fishing boats last week. However, the French government complains that the permits contain restrictive conditions about where ships can go and how long they can stay at sea.
The UK government, in turn, believes that access to fishing waters in Jersey is a matter of leadership in London.
The French Minister of Shipping, Annick Girardin, referring to the views in London and Jersey, stressed that the demands are unacceptable. France will take retaliatory measures “if it should.”
When asked if this could include blackouts by means of three underwater cables that provide 95 percent of Jersey’s electricity, Girardin replied: “I would regret it if it came this far,” but: “We will do it if we can get to . “
The United Kingdom and France have been fighting for several months to gain access to fishing waters in the Atlantic Ocean.
French European Minister Clement Boone recently accused London again of obstructing the rights of fishermen in his country. He warned that the European Union should be prepared to respond with countermeasures. For example, if the conflict continues, access to European financial services markets may have to be restricted.