Two navy vessels – HMS Severn and HMS Tamar – set sail from Portsmouth to patrol waters around Jersey, as dozens of French boats gathered near the island’s main port in protest over post-Brexit fishing rights.
Now, it has been reported that the French government has also dispatched two patrol boats to the island.
Agence France-Presse reported the two police vessels had been sent after Britain deployed ships yesterday evening.
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Earlier dozens of French fishing boats gathered off the Jersey capital, St Helier, amid fears they were preparing to blockade the harbour.
Jersey’s external relations minister, Ian Gorst, said he would be speaking to the French fishermen in an attempt to defuse the worsening row.
Speaking to BBC News, he said: ‘It’s important that we respond to threats, but the answer to this solution is to continue to talk and diplomacy.’
The row erupted after the Jersey government said French fishing boats would be required to geta licence to fish in the island’s waters under the terms of the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.
It caused anger in the French fishing communities who complained boats which had operated there for years were suddenly having their access to the fisheries restrict.
Earlier this week the French maritime minister Annick Girardin said Paris would cut off electricity to Jersey – which gets 95 per cent of its power supply from France – if the dispute was not resolved.