UK denies fishing licenses to three quarters of small French boats

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Boats are seen in the only canal that allows access to the port, in St Helier, Jersey, on May 6, 2021, in this photo obtained from social media. Thomas Meany / via REUTERS

LONDON, Sept. 29 (Reuters) – France on Wednesday accused Britain of playing politics with post-Brexit fishing rights after London granted fishing licenses in its territorial waters to just 12 small French boats on 47 requests.

Britain said it was open to further discussions with the boats it had rejected, adding that they had not submitted evidence of their operating history in the waters, which was necessary for continue to fish in the 6 to 12 nautical mile (nm) zone.

“Our approach has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACT),” said a spokesperson for the British government, referring to the free trade agreement between the Great Brittany and the European Union.

“Regarding the 6-12 nm area, as defined in the ATT, EU vessels must provide evidence of a history of fishing activity in these waters.”

French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin has said Britain is breaking the Brexit deal.

“This is another British refusal to implement the terms of the Brexit deal despite all the work we have done together,” she said in a statement quoted by the Guardian newspaper.

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

Britain said it has licensed nearly 1,700 vessels to fish in the 12-200 nautical mile zone, and 105 more licenses have been issued for vessels to fish in the 6 to 12 nautical mile zone where the evidence supported a balance sheet.

Britain and France both deployed maritime patrol vessels to waters off Jersey earlier this year after a flotilla of French trawlers sailed in protest to the Isle of Channel, arguing that ‘ they were unfairly excluded from the rich fishing grounds.

Fishing and controlling UK waters was a hot topic in the 2016 UK referendum on leaving the EU. But British fishermen have since accused the government of selling them by allowing international boats to continue fishing in British waters.

Reporting by Paul Sandle Editing by William Schomberg

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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