Tension between French and British over fishing rights rises again

Tension between French and British over fishing rights rises again
Photo by Baptiste Pilot on Unsplash

France is reacting with anger to the British government's decision to allow only a limited number of European fishing boats into its waters.

The UK's Department for Environment (DEFRA) announced on Tuesday that only 12 of the 47 small (less than 12 metres) French fishing boats that had applied for a licence to fish in British waters will actually receive one, according to Belga News Agency.

French fishermen now say they’re ready to “go on the offensive against Saint Helier,” the capital of the British channel island of Jersey, a sector manager said, and French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said he has no doubts about “retaliatory measures.”

On Wednesday, news emerged that Jersey authorities will only grant 64 licences to French fishing boats, out of a total of 170 applications. Another 31 fishermen will be granted temporary licences, which should give them more time to prove that they have fished in British waters in the past.

That condition for obtaining a licence is a crucial part of the trade deal that the United Kingdom and the European Union agreed last year. According to Jersey, a “pragmatic and reasonable approach” is now being taken, which goes even further than what was agreed.

But the French don’t see it that way.

France's maritime minister, Annick Girardin, said the British were not fulfilling their obligations under the post-Brexit trade agreement and accused them of holding the French fishing industry “hostage for political purposes.”

In May, the main town and port of Jersey was blockaded by dozens of French fishing boats in a demonstration of discontent with the fishing rights granted and the extra conditions that the British would impose.

The British Government responded by sending two naval ships and the French Government threatened to cut off the power supply to Jersey.

The British island is about 20 kilometres off the French coast and gets 95 percent of its electricity from France.

Agreements on the fishing industry were at the centre of negotiations on a post-Brexit agreement last year.

The re-establishment of control over their own territorial waters was an absolute must for the British, while France, Belgium and some other European member states were - and still are - particularly concerned about the future of their fishing industry.

The Brussels Times

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