Paris denounces “a new refusal of the British”

The access of French fishermen to British waters has been subject since 1is January to provisional licenses. Paris raises the tone to obtain final authorizations.

The British government will grant 12 new licenses, out of 47 applications, to EU fishing vessels of less than 12 meters to allow them to fish in its territorial waters, he announced on Tuesday (September 28th). A decision regretted by Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin. “It is a new refusal of the British to implement the conditions of the Brexit agreement despite all the work undertaken together“, Declared Annick Girardin in a press release. “French fishing must not be taken hostage by the British for political ends».

«I have only one watchword left: obtain definitive licenses for our fishermen as provided for in the agreement. French fishing must not be taken hostage by the British for political ends», Added the Minister. According to London, which defends its “reasonable approachOn a flammable post-Brexit subject with France and its fishermen, nearly 1,700 licenses authorizing European boats to fish in British waters have been issued in total. Of these, 117 were in the 6-12 mile zone, corresponding to territorial waters.

Thirty-five applications for small boats (less than 12 meters long) were rejected for lack of evidence deemed sufficient that they previously fished in the area (between 2012 and 2016), as provided for in the post-Brexit agreement reached in extremis at the end of last year between London and Brussels. Corn “UK government remains open to further discussions“And new elements, he detailed in a statement.

Retaliatory measures?

The standoff has been going on since Brexit and the subsequent agreement between the UK and the EU, which requires European fishermen to obtain new licenses from London to continue fishing in an area between 6 and 12 nautical miles from the British coast. These licenses are conditional on proof of prior fishing practice in British waters. London said it had studied 47 requests and not 87 as indicated by Paris. In total, including the licenses previously granted by London, 100 were issued out of 175, according to the French Ministry of the Sea.

Added to this is the access to the waters of the semi-autonomous Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey. Paris is still awaiting responses to 169 requests for final authorizations in Jersey, and 168 in Guernsey. France has previously warned that its “response will (it) be proportional to the British offer“. French fishermen plead for immediate retaliatory measures: prohibiting English boats from disembarking, reducing economic or university cooperation with the Channel Islands. Paris says “to study»The subject, with Brussels as arbiter.

«The government has issued a large number of licenses this year to EU vessels asking to fish in our exclusive economic (12-200 nautical mile zone) and territorial waters (6-12 nautical mile zone). Our approach has been fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation AgreementConcluded with Brussels, a spokesperson for the British government said in a statement. The list of affected vessels is to be published on Wednesday. Of the 40 other requests making it possible to arrive at the total of 87 mentioned by France, three relate to specific cases, the others relate to boats which have succeeded vessels which previously fished in the area.

Explosive subject

An explosive subject throughout the negotiations on the conditions for the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, the access of European fishermen to British waters remains a subject of tension despite the post-Brexit agreement between London and Brussels, in force since January 1. At the beginning of May, dozens of Norman and Breton fishing boats had gathered in the port of Saint-Hélier in Jersey to defend their right to continue fishing in these waters, causing London to send two patrol boats for a few hours.

This feverish blow had resulted in the extension of the deadlines without changing the fundamentals: European fleets will have to give up 25% of their catches in British waters at the end of a transition period running until June 2026. Until then, the post-Brexit agreement foresees the obligation for European fishermen to obtain new licenses from London. These are conditional on proof of prior fishing practice in British waters.

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