France makes compensation threat as fishing row boils over – ‘Fishermen are suffering’
UK and EU agree new £333 million fishing deal
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Fishing chiefs in Brittany and Brenton and Paris ministers have expressed disgust that some trawlermen are yet to be granted a licence to fish in the UK’s 6-12-mile zone. Alongside this, talks to resolve new licencing regulations introduced by the British Crown Dependency of Jersey are currently underway.
Now Senator Pascal Allizard, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs raised the prospect of compensation during a Senate debate if no long term solutions are reached over licences and access.
The French politician, who represents Calvados in Brittany, Northern France, said: “Our fishermen are still suffering; licence conditions for the Channel Islands are changed without notice; negotiations on catchable volumes by species are slipping.
“So, should we threaten to resort to the compensation measures contained in the Brexit agreement?
“The general climate has already deteriorated, and the situation of European expatriates is in turn worrying. So is this British drift irresistible?”
Under the UK’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, it includes arrangements for compensation if a party decides to reduce or withdraw access to its waters.
French Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin also claimed authorities were still awaiting a large number of licences.
In a statement, she added: “For access to 6/12 miles in British waters, I also want rapid development, we cannot be satisfied with this expectation, it undermines the balance of the agreement.”
French Europe Minister Clement Beaune, added: “There is great concern about the incomplete, to put it mildly, implementation of the agreement by the British side, as well as the absolute need for its full, swift and full implementation.
“This applies to the issue of fishing, which preoccupies our fellow citizens, but also, because peace is at stake, for the question of the Northern Irish protocol, which concerns all of Europe.”
The potential action raised by French ministers comes as Jersey could be set for a second round of fishing protests from French fishermen if the row over fishing licences is not resolved between St Helier, London and Paris.
An interim agreement had been due to expire on June 30 under the UK’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, but this will now last until September 30.
Jersey’s Assistant Environment Minister said the new deadline could see a new round of protests from French trawlermen.
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Deputy Gregory Guida, added: “I am sure that the French will apply as much pressure as they can.
“But remember that this is a contract between the EU and the British government, and the EU actually wants this solved.
“They’re quite keen to have the terms of the contract just applied and done.”
Under the terms of the Brexit trade deal, French vessels have to show evidence of their history fishing in Jersey waters.
But the Jersey Government says large numbers of fishermen did not provide enough proof and were given restricted access under provisional licences.
In Britain, UK Single Issuing Authority (SIA) has been set up to issue licences to both UK and non-UK vessels authorising access to UK waters to fish.
A UK Government source said licences were in the “process of being issued or had been issued.”
As part of the Brexit trade deal signed in December, EU fishing quotas are reduced by 25 percent over the next five years.
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