French fishing boats off the coast of Jersey
Oliver Pinel / dpa
After French fishermen ended their blockade of the Channel Island of Jersey, the British government announced that it would withdraw its navy.
"Now that the situation has been resolved for the time being, the Royal Navy patrol ships are preparing to return to their port in the United Kingdom," said Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office on Thursday evening.
"We stand by to assist with any further inquiries from Jersey."
The government stressed that the Jersey authorities have the right to regulate fishing in their waters.
On Twitter, Johnson thanked the Royal Navy for their swift commitment: "I am delighted that the situation in Jersey has been resolved." Jersey's Prime Minister John Le Fondre reported constructive discussions with representatives of the fishermen.
Dozens of French fishing boats had blocked the port of the island's capital Saint Helier since early morning.
The background to this is a dispute over fishing licenses in the English Channel, which has come up again because of the Brexit.
Great Britain sent the gunships "HMS Severn" and "HMS Tamar" to Jersey to "monitor the situation."
It was a "purely preventive measure," the Ministry of Defense had declared in London.
Prime Minister Johnson had criticized the threatened French blockade of the Channel Island as "completely unjustified".
Situation relaxed on Thursday
France in turn sent two naval patrol ships to the area.
The French European Minister Clément Beaune said his country was "not intimidated".
During the course of Thursday, the situation eased: the 50 or so French fishing trawlers left the sea area off Jersey and made their way back to France.
"The show of strength is over," said the President of the Normandy Fisheries Association, Dimitri Rogoff.
"Now it is the turn of politics."
The fishing rights were one of the sticking points in the trade agreement between the EU and the UK, which has been in full force since May 1st.
The British must therefore only allow fishing boats in their areas that have been active there since 2012.
The French fishermen complain that this is not easy to prove.
From 2026, European fishermen are expected to forego a quarter of their catches in British waters, which corresponds to a loss of revenue of around 650 million euros per year.
The island of Jersey is around 30 kilometers off the coast of Normandy, and its waters are particularly rich in fish.
Jersey and the other Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom but have an autonomous administration.
But they belong to the British crown possession.
ngo / dpa / afp