There is still a dispute between France and the United Kingdom over fishing licenses

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The French government was highly critical of UK and Jersey decisions on fishing rights on Wednesday. As part of a post-Brexit agreement, France requested from London 47 additional fishing licenses and 170 jerseys. The British authorities awarded him only 12 and 95. “Absolutely unacceptable and totally unacceptable decisions,” according to the French executive, which is studying possible punitive measures.

The waters of the English Channel that separate France from the United Kingdom have been quite agitated in the past days, not because of the weather, but because of the fighting between the two neighboring countries over fishing permits in British waters. The Anglo-Norman island of Jersey and the London government announced on Wednesday their decision not to grant all the additional fishing licenses requested by French fishermen.

Jersey decided to authorize 64 final and 31 temporary licenses to allow French ships to fish in its waters, and rejected 75 required. For its part, London indicated that only 12 licenses were allowed to access its waters out of an additional 47 licenses requested by Paris under the Brexit agreement.

Some of the decisions that angered the French leaders. Government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, condemned, on Wednesday, the “unacceptable and unacceptable decisions that contradict the agreement signed in the framework of Britain’s exit from the European Union.”

A direct consequence of Britain’s exit from the European Union

A transitional arrangement was agreed upon after the United Kingdom left the European Union, which redrawn the trade border between the British Isles and the mainland at the end of 2020. This interim agreement stipulated that European fishermen could continue fishing in certain British waters provided they obtained a licence, which would be granted them if they are able to prove that they fished in these areas before Brexit.

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Under that condition, Jersey authorized 47 licenses at the start of 2021. On Wednesday, it allowed an additional 95 boats: 64 of them had delivered all required documents and 31 had through January 2022 to get the documents. Thus, the 75 French ships that did not submit the required documents will have to abandon their activity in these waters.

According to the Jersey authorities, these 75 vessels were rejected because they “did not engage in fishing activity in Jersey waters during the period studied or because they were unable to justify such activity”.

The French government claimed it understood the “fears” and “anger” of the rejected French fishermen. Gabriel Attal added that France would study possible “retaliatory measures” against London and Jersey.

French ships demonstrate in front of the port of Saint Helier on the island of Jersey on May 6, 2021. Sameer Al-DOUMY AFP

“Granting these licenses will allow us to ensure that fishing efforts in our waters remain in proportions similar to the status they deserved before Brexit,” said John Young, the environment minister for Jersey.

Jersey Foreign Minister Ian Gorst highlighted “a pragmatic and reasonable approach based on concrete evidence, which has allowed the transition period to be extended several times now, which has not been a commitment to the Brexit agreement”.

In May 2021, dozens of French fishing boats protested at the entrance to the port of Saint Helier on the island of Jersey to defend their right to continue fishing in these waters. In response, London sent two military ships to the area.

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Kon Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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