For fishermen and the French government, the account is not there. Gabriel Attal, the government spokesperson denounced, Wednesday, September 29, “Totally unacceptable and inadmissible decisions” after the refusal of the British authorities and Jersey to issue to French boats all the fishing licenses requested.
This “Are decisions that contravene the agreement that was signed in the context of Brexit”, lamented Mr. Attal at the exit of the Council of Ministers, ensuring to understand “Worry” and ” anger “ French fishermen. “The French State will obviously remain alongside its fishermen in this discussion”, he insisted.
“We will continue to work with the Commission [européenne] and even amplify it to move forward on this subject, and also explore possible retaliatory measures that could be taken if the agreement were not to be respected ”, he added, specifying that “It is obviously the competence of the Commission”.
The post-Brexit agreement reached at the end of last year between London and Brussels provides that European fishermen can continue to work in certain British waters on condition that they obtain a license, granted if they can prove that they used to fish there before.
A lack of evidence, according to the British
But on Wednesday, London announced that it had only granted French boats 12 access licenses to its waters out of the 47 claimed by Paris. The UK said it was open to further discussion of the rejected licenses, but it believes that the operators of the failed vessels have failed to provide evidence that they were fishing in its waters before Brexit, a necessary condition for continue to operate within the 6-12 nautical mile zone corresponding to British territorial waters.
“Our approach has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (CCA)”said a spokesperson for the British government, referring to the free trade agreement between Britain and the European Union. “Regarding the 6-12 nautical mile zone, as defined in the ACC, EU vessels must provide evidence of prior fishing activity in these waters”, recalled the spokesperson for the British government.
“French fishing must not be taken hostage”
Annick Girardin, French Minister for the Sea, believes for her part that Great Britain does not respect the Brexit agreement. “It is a new refusal of the British to implement the conditions of the Brexit agreement despite all the work undertaken together”, she said in a statement. “French fishing must not be taken hostage by the British for political ends”, she added.
The minister specifies that the British government has issued a total of only 100 licenses out of the 175 requested by France. London, for its part, says it has granted fishing licenses to nearly 1,700 vessels in the 12-200 nautical mile zone and 105 other licenses for vessels operating in the 6 to 12 nautical mile zone in support of evidence of ‘prior practice.
The Anglo-Norman island of Jersey, in the English Channel, for its part announced on Wednesday that it had notified the European Union of French vessels that will benefit from a fishing license under the post-Brexit agreements. It will grant 64 definitive licenses – in addition to the 47 licenses already issued since the beginning of the year – and 31 provisional to French boats to fish in its waters and on the other hand refused 75 applications, announced the Jersey government in a statement.
At the beginning of May, dozens of Norman and Breton fishing boats had gathered in front of 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.