Friday 31 January 2020
The governments of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark have put in place a package of measures to ensure continuity of access for the remainder of 2020 for French vessels who previously fished in Bailiwick waters.
On 31 January 2020, the UK will leave the European Union, the Withdrawal Agreement will take effect and the Transition Period will start. The Transition Period will last until 31 December 2020. The Transition Period provides a stable basis for the negotiations on the UK-EU future relationship.
For the UK, this means that EU law will still apply and fisheries matters will continue to be covered by the Common Fisheries Policy meaning that fisheries access will be unchanged during the Transition Period due to the Withdrawal Agreement. Bailiwick fishing vessels will continue to benefit from the access and trading rights enjoyed while the UK was a member of the EU. In respect of the Bailiwick, the UK decision to withdraw from the London Fisheries Convention made in 2017 will also take effect on the date that the UK leaves the EU. The London Fisheries Convention provides for access for French vessels which will now end on 31 January 2020.
To provide the same stability provided by the UK's Withdrawal Agreement in relation to French vessels in the UK's waters but in Bailiwick waters, the governments of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark have implemented a package of measures. These measures will provide for continuity for those French vessels who previously fished in Bailiwick waters on a time limited basis. This includes retaining the legislation which gives effect to the London Fisheries Convention (such as the
Fishing Boats (France) Designation Order 1965) and the introduction of an authorisation regime for individual French vessels.
The new authorisation regime will assist France to meet its own EU obligation under EU Regulation 2017/2403 (on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets), known as 'SMEFF'. French vessels will need a SMEFF authorised document issued by Guernsey, before they can be authorised by France, to allow them to fish in Bailiwick waters under the same conditions as the London Fisheries Convention. The SMEFF authorisation regime will only apply for the duration of the Transition Period (that is until 31 December 2020, unless it is extended).
This arrangement is without prejudice to the negotiations on the UK-EU relationship or the Bailiwick's part in that, will not provide any new rights for French vessels in Bailiwick waters and should ensure that there is no new fishing effort in Bailiwick waters.
The President of the Policy & Resources Committee Deputy Gavin St Pier said:
"This proactive step is aligned with the intention that the Transition Period provides continuity and stability to enable negotiations to take place. This is an important step to assist the negotiations during this year and to ensure that we protect our good neighbourhood relationship with France and in particular Normandy. It also demonstrates the greater control that the Bailiwick has over its own waters following the extension of our territorial seas in 2019, a step taken to prepare for the UK's exit from the EU."
The President of the Committee for Economic Development, Deputy Charles Parkinson said:
"Our trading relationship with France is important, particularly in terms of landing fish into Normandy. This continuity arrangement helps to protect the interests of Bailiwick fishermen during the Transition Period, including that trading relationship. We will need to negotiate our own future fisheries management arrangements that will suit the needs of the Bailiwick from 2021 onwards. We have achieved this while ensuring that there is no greater fishing activity by EU vessels in our waters during this time, it does not prejudice the future negotiations, it does not provide new rights of French vessels, and is for a time limited period only."