1st December 1996

French fishing boats prepare to invade

When did France last invade the Channel Islands? It’s probably more recently than you think, as up to 60 French boats massed for invasion on 1 December 1996. The actual advance took place two days later.

The boats were a fleet from Granville protesting the end of an informal agreement allowing them to fish in two well-stocked areas known as the Sark Box and Haricot, which together comprised 64 square miles.

Authorities from both Britain and France kept watch. British fisheries inspectors were among the French boats in a small inflatable of their own, while the French had sent a more substantial but still unarmed coastguards boat and a Navy helicopter.

Invasion delayed

The French fishermen had intended to “invade” on 1 December – the same day they had gathered in port – but, according to a report in The Times, this had to be pushed back by a day because a French lorry drivers’ strike left them short of fuel. Bad weather the following day meant it had to be put back by another 24 hours.

Despite a desire not to inflame the situation, both countries were standing their ground. The French Navy and coastguard were ready to intervene should any French fishermen be arrested and said that they would arrest any Guernsey fishermen who strayed into certain French waters.

It wasn’t the first time French fishermen had fought for their rights to fish in Channel Island waters. British authorities made arrests in 1993 over a previous incident that saw a French skipper end up in a St Peter Port court.


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Other events that occured in December

French fishing boats prepare to invade 1st
Two cargo ships collide on their way to Guernsey 2nd
Guernseyman Herbert Le Patourel wrongly thought killed 3rd
A Guernsey funeral takes place in Cornwall 4th
Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked 5th
The Guernsey Tapestry is completed 6th
Air UK Fokker overshoots Guernsey runway 7th
Naftel’s paintings go on display 8th
Guernsey and Jersey newspapers agree to merge 9th
Sark holds its first election 10th
Beau Sejour opens for business 11th
Victor Hugo flees France and Napoleon 12th
Explorer Edmund Kennedy is speared to death 13th
Author Mary Ann Shaffer is born
Herm bribery case comes to court 14th
Alderney’s evacuees return to their island 15th
Guillaume de Beauvoir appointed dean of English Church in Geneva 16th
Castle Cornet surrenders to Guernsey 17th
Telex, phones and telegram cables go quiet 18th
Guernsey shipwreck results in starvation 19th
Channel Islands Securities Exchange founded 20th
G-COBO has a bumpy flight 21st
Guernsey struck by an earthquake 22nd
William Hedley Cliff buys Jethou 23rd
Wombles author Liza Beresford dies 24th
Asterix is discovered in St Peter Port harbour 25th
Guille and Alles lease the Assembly Rooms 26th
The Red Cross saves Guernsey from starvation 27th
Operation Hardtack targets the Channel Islands 28th
Ebenezer Le Page author GB Edwards dies 29th
Castle Cornet is struck by lightning 30th
Guernsey Police makes the world’s first underwater arrest 31st