France criticises UK’s ’unacceptable’ fishing decision

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France has promised “retaliatory measures” by the EU in the latest round of tensions between Paris and London over post-Brexit fishing rights. It comes after the British Government approved only 12 out of a total of 47 applications from French trawlers to fish in British waters. Similarly, the Jersey Government has announced this week that 75 licence applications out of 170 received from French fishermen have been rejected over a failure to demonstrate a track record of fishing in Jersey waters. 

French Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said: “These decisions are absolutely unacceptable and outrageous. 

“These are decisions that violate agreements of the Brexit deal.

“The deal isn’t being respected.

Mr Attal added that the French Government would be considering retaliatory measures.

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The French maritime minister Annick Girardin said she would be holding talks with fishing industry representatives to formulate a response.

“It is a new refusal of the British to apply the conditions of the Brexit accord despite all the work undertaken together,” she said.

“French fishing must not be taken hostage by the British for political ends.”

The tug of war between London and Paris over the issue of fishing rights has been continuing for months.

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Britain has argued that licences have been granted to almost 1,700 vessels to fish in the 12-200 nautical mile zone, and a further 105 licences were issued for vessels to fish in the 6-12 nautical mile zone where evidence supported a track record.

However, Channel Island trawlermen have often criticized the UK Government for offering too many concessions to EU fleets.

One Jersey fisherman told France24: “It is a little bit of a biased deal where we give rights to foreign fleets to continue to act about 20 million Euros worth of fish from our waters, and in return, we don’t really get anything at all.”

Jersey’s external relations minister Ian Gorst has defended the way the licences had been awarded saying they had adopted “a pragmatic, reasonable and evidence-based approach”.

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He said the island authorities had already extended the transitional arrangements on a number of occasions even though they were not required to do so under the TCA.

“We’re now in a position to ensure those boats which have fished these waters are able to continue doing so, and therefore it is time, next month, for our transitional arrangements to come to a close,” Mr Gorst said.

“We will continue to have an open door to further data and evidence of fishing activity, including for vessels which have already been considered.

“We look forward to working collaboratively to resolve the remaining complex issues.”

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