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France threatens retaliation against UK as fishing spat flares again By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: This image, taken from social media, shows boats in St Helier (Jersey) on May 6, 2021. Thomas Meany/via REUTERS

By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) -France will decide within two weeks on possible retaliation measures after Britain and the Channel Island of Jersey refused dozens of French fishing boats a licence to operate in their territorial waters.

Paris called on other European Union members to be as tough against Britain’s disregard for the new trade relationship.

Paris has been furious at Britain’s role in an Indo-Pacific Security pact, which was signed with Australia and the United States. This led to Canberra dropping its agreement to buy French submarines.

Annick Girardin, France’s maritime minister, said that French fishermen shouldn’t be held hostage by British forces for political purposes. He also suggested that the British could retaliate with energy supplies, education exchanges and railway links.

Girardin, who met with Paris fishermen on Wednesday said: “On all subjects, the British are slowing down or failing to meet their commitments.”

The British referendum on leaving the EU in 2016 was dominated by the topic of fishing and control over British waters. British fishermen accuse the government of selling their rights by permitting European vessels to fish in British waters.

Britain claimed it granted licenses to nearly 1,700 vessels fishing in the 12-200 mile zone. Further, 105 licenses were given to vessels fishing in the 6–12 mile zone, where there was evidence of a track record.


Britain said it was open to further discussion with the boats it had rejected, adding that they had not submitted evidence of their history of operating in the waters which was needed to continue fishing in the 6-12 nautical mile zone.

Jersey, British Crown Dependent, is closer to France and Britain than Britain. It said that 64 of its vessels were being licensed, along with 31 temporary permits. But, it rejected 75 applications from fishing boats.

The French fishermen said that was insufficient.

“We did everything possible to provide evidence (of previous activity) in this area.” Romain Davodet who fishes off Jersey for lobster and whelk, said it was a matter of bad faith. He received only a temporary license.

This dispute has been simmering for several months. After a flotilla from French trawlers protested to Jersey, Paris threatened to shut off electricity to Jersey. In May, both Britain and France sent maritime patrol vessels into the waters of Jersey.

Parisian patience is waning over British officials’ failure to honor its promises since Brexit. In particular, London’s demands to renegotiate Northern Ireland’s protocol that was agreed upon after many months of difficult negotiations aimed at maintaining integrity of the EU single-market.

“We often hear Boris Johnson (British Prime Minster) reaffirm how much he loves France, and how amazing he thinks that we are. However, one advisor to President Emmanuel Macron stated that British behavior does not resemble an ally.

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