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Royal Navy patrol vessel returns to base from Jersey after fishing dispute

·2 min read

Watch: Royal Navy ship returns from Jersey after fishing dispute

A Royal Navy fishing patrol ship has returned to base after being scrambled to Jersey in response to the protest by French fishermen.

HMS Severn and its sister ship HMS Tamar were deployed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as 60 fishing vessels sailed to the port of St Helier in an escalation of the row over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Although the demonstration was halted by Thursday afternoon and the fishing boats returned to France, the French navy also sent two of its ships to monitor the situation.

The UK Government has said it will now work with France and Jersey to resolve the dispute before it escalates further.

And Jersey’s head of government, Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondre, said the “very good discussion” with representatives from the protesters had highlighted many issues that could be “very easily resolved”.

Jersey fishing dispute
Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Severn returns to Portsmouth Naval Base from Jersey (Steve Parsons/PA)

Earlier this week, French maritime minister Annick Girardin said Paris would cut off electricity to Jersey – which gets 95% of its power supply from France – if the fishing licence dispute was not resolved.

The authorities in Jersey have promised further talks to help resolve the row, but the French government hit out at a “British failure” to abide by the terms of the UK-EU trade deal and warned it would “use all the leverage at our disposal” to protect the fishing industry.

The European Union also accused Jersey of breaching the deal signed by the UK and Brussels.

HMS Severn, a River-class offshore patrol vessel, sailed into its home base of Portsmouth Naval Base on Sunday morning with members of the crew waving to members of the public on the walls of Portsmouth Harbour.

It followed sister ship HMS Tamar which returned on Friday.

Local fishermen on Jersey had welcomed the deployment of the two ships to monitor the situation.

Josh Dearing, who owns seafood company The Jersey Catch, said: “We were so exposed, such a small island, and having those two boats out there, although they kept their distance, must have had some sort of presence to stop anything from getting out of hand.”

Watch: Why is fishing so important in Brexit talks?