The dispute between Great Britain and France over fishing rights is accelerating again. According to London, only 12 of the 47 small fishing boats from the European Union have been granted licenses to fish in British waters. As a result, France in particular, as a direct neighbor, became angry. “This is a renewed refusal by the British to implement the terms of the Brexit agreement,” French Maritime Affairs Minister Annick Girardin said last Tuesday.
There is not enough evidence from French fishing boats
British Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA defended the decision by saying the other 35 fishermen were unable to provide sufficient evidence of past fishing in the waters. With this decision, the UK continues to throw its weight on one of the most tense elements in its post-Brexit relationship with France. Paris has threatened in the past to block British financial firms if they do not comply with the Brexit agreement on fishing.
Early in May, about 50 French fishing boats set up a block in front of Port Saint Helier. Then Great Britain sent two warships to “monitor the situation”. The Ministry of Defense described this as a “purely precautionary measure.” France also sent two patrol boats. However, these are also purely precautionary measures to save human lives if necessary.
The port of Saint Helier is located on the island of Jersey off the French coast. There are very rich fishing grounds around the island.
UK risks French anger with restrictions on fishing in coastal waters https://t.co/0ysGLpeZxP
– Financial Times (FT) September 28, 2021
Britain rejects guilt
DEFRA is adamant about these allegations. According to DEFRA, about 1,700 EU vessels have been licensed to fish in the 12 to 200 nautical-mile zone off the UK since Brexit. In addition, 37 orders for another 37 vessels are already being evaluated. However, fishermen accuse Great Britain of delaying the process.
“Our approach was logical and fully in line with our agreements in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” explains DEFRA. “We continue to work with the European Union Commission and the French authorities and will consider any additional evidence to support license applications.”
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