France has despatched two maritime patrol boats to the waters off the British Channel island of Jersey after Britain deployed two of its naval vessels in an escalating row over post-Brexit fishing rights.
The French government was angered when Jersey issued new fishing permits which, according to Paris, impose unfair and unfounded restrictions on French trawlers' access to Channel island fishing grounds.
A French minister threatened to cut off electricity supplies to Jersey if the fishing restrictions were not lifted, prompting Britain's government to send the two naval vessels.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged his "unwavering support" for the island after he spoke with Jersey officials about the prospect of a French blockade.
Johnson "stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions," a spokesperson for the prime minister said.
The French navy said on Thursday the two French patrol vessels had been deployed on the orders of the French civil authorities. It did not give details of what they would be doing in the waters off Jersey.
Ship-tracking website marinetraffic.com showed one of the two vessels, Athos, located approximately 20km southeast of Jersey and heading in a south-westerly direction.
Earlier on Thursday, a flotilla of French trawler vessels protesting over the fishing rights had sailed to the Jersey port of St Helier.
Jersey officials, who say the new fishing restrictions are in line with post-Brexit trade arrangements, said they would meet representatives of the protesters to listen to their concerns.
Australian Associated Press