Fishing rights dispute: France closes ports to British fishermen

Dispute over fishing rights
France closes ports to British fishermen

An old dispute has flared up in the English Channel since Brexit: where are British and French fishermen allowed to do their jobs? Paris complains that London grants too few licenses – and is now imposing the first sanctions.

In the fisheries dispute, the French government is increasing the pressure on Great Britain. From November 2, British fishing boats will no longer be allowed to dock at certain French ports, as the Paris Ministry of the Sea announced. In addition, France will systematically check the safety of British boats in the future. Trucks driving from France to Great Britain or in the opposite direction should therefore also be checked more closely. For the future, further measures would be worked out, it said from the ministry. It is also not ruled out that the French electricity supplies to the island are fundamentally reconsidered.

The background to this is a dispute over fishing licenses. Paris accuses London of still not having granted all licenses after ten months of intensive talks. In the Brexit agreement it was agreed that European fishermen should get fishing licenses for a zone of six to twelve nautical miles off the British coast. In order to obtain a license, a fisherman must prove that he was previously active in these waters. So far, the British authorities have issued 210 fishing licenses in the disputed waters. Paris calls for 244 more. There has long been a dispute between France and Great Britain over the implementation, also in the area of ​​the Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey.

Great Britain immediately criticized France sharply. “The threats from France are disappointing and disproportionate and not what one would expect from a close ally and partner,” said a government spokesman. Paris appears to be violating the agreed trade agreement and international law. “It is very disappointing that France has found it necessary to threaten the UK fishing industry and, it appears, traders in general late in the evening,” said UK Brexit Minister David Frost on Twitter. He will now seek clarification in Paris, and he is also considering “what measures we should take in view of this information”.

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