Paris claims victory in fishing row as Guernsey grants licences

Paris claims a victory over Britain in fishing row as Guernsey grants licence to EVERY fishing boat France believed was entitled to one under post-Brexit terms

  • Guernsey granted licences to 43 vessels registered in Brittany and Normandy
  • There are still dozens of licences France is seeking from Britain and Jersey
  • E|U fishing vessels can continue to ply UK waters if they apply for new licences 
  • France has claimed a victory in the fishing wars with Britain after Guernsey approved all licences Paris said its fishermen were untitled to under Brexit.

    Some 40 vessels who had requested licences and were registered in either Brittany or Normandy have been approved, with another three to be issued later, authorities on the Channel island said.

    There still remain dozens of licences which are being withheld by Britain and Jersey, a French minister has said.  

    France has claimed a victory in the fishing wars with Britain after Guernsey approved all licences Paris said its fishermen were untitled to under Brexit. Pictured: French fishermen wave a banner during a blockade in Calais on Friday

    France has claimed a victory in the fishing wars with Britain after Guernsey approved all licences Paris said its fishermen were untitled to under Brexit. Pictured: French fishermen wave a banner during a blockade in Calais on Friday

    France is angry that Britain and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey have not issued some French boats licences to fish in their waters after Brexit as the row continues to rumble.

    Under a deal agreed by London and Brussels late last year, European fishing vessels can continue to ply UK waters if they apply for new licences and can prove they operated there in the past. 

    Fishing rights plagued Brexit talks for years and continue to poison relations between Britain and France, not because of their economic importance but because of their political resonance for both sides.

    Paris says London is failing to respect the agreed licensing system that grants vessels access to each other’s waters, a charge that Britain denies.

    ‘As the deadline fixed by the European Commission approaches, the issuance of 43 licences is excellent news for our fishermen,’ Annick Girardin, France’s seas minister, said on Twitter.

    Paris says London is failing to respect the agreed licensing system that grants vessels access to each other's waters, a charge that Britain denies. Pictured: French fishermen light flares during the ongoing row

    Paris says London is failing to respect the agreed licensing system that grants vessels access to each other’s waters, a charge that Britain denies. Pictured: French fishermen light flares during the ongoing row

    Guernsey confirmed that the licences had been approved.

    Guernsey and Jersey, both British Crown Dependencies, lie far closer to the northern shores of France than to Britain.

    Girardin said France was still awaiting 59 licences from Jersey and 52 licences to fish in the territorial waters 6-12 miles off Britain’s shores.

    President Emmanuel Macron, who faces an election next year, has said his government will not rest until his fishermen have all the licences Paris says are owed.

    French fishermen temporarily blockaded the port of Calais and Channel Tunnel rail last Friday in an effort to disrupt trade between Britain and the continent.

    In May, as tensions over access to the self-governing British crown dependencies in the Channel boiled over, French trawlers briefly encircled Jersey’s main port.

    In May, as tensions over access to the self-governing British crown dependencies in the Channel boiled over, French trawlers briefly encircled Jersey's main port (pictured)

    In May, as tensions over access to the self-governing British crown dependencies in the Channel boiled over, French trawlers briefly encircled Jersey’s main port (pictured)

    Guernsey’s authorities had so far renewed licences on an interim, month-to-month, basis as it considered the applications.

    The licences announced on Wednesday will enable 40 vessels to continue to fish in Guernsey waters from February 2022. 

    The other vessels on the interim list will be able to fish until January 31, 2022.

    After that, they will no longer be allowed, unless they can provide evidence that they historically fished in the waters.

    ‘We have reached a significant milestone in our licensing roadmap announced back in September,’ said Guernsey official Jonathan Le Tocq.

    ‘We value our good relationships with Normandy, Brittany and La Manche, and I hope that today’s announcement provides welcome certainty and stability in this new era,’ he added.  

    The EU has given Britain until December 10 to resolve the issue.

    French fishermen last week disrupted cross-Channel traffic for several hours in protest at the post-Brexit fishing rights granted by Britain.

    President Emmanuel Macron, who faces an election next year, has said his government will not rest until his fishermen have all the licences Paris says are owed

    President Emmanuel Macron, who faces an election next year, has said his government will not rest until his fishermen have all the licences Paris says are owed

    Half a dozen fishing boats blocked access to ferries at the northern port of Calais and the port of Ouistreham in Normandy to the southwest.

    The action by French fishermen came with relations between the two neighbours at their lowest point in decades and days after a dinghy carrying migrants sank in the Channel, claiming 27 lives.

    Meanwhile, a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and Norway came into effect on Wednesday.

    The deal promises tariff-free trade in produce, including fish, potentially presenting benefits to consumers but new competition for the hard-pressed UK fishing industry.

    The deal was struck in April, but without agreement reached on mutual access to each other’s fishing waters.

    ‘This deal will support businesses in all sectors across the country, from the fishing trade in Scotland and Grimsby, to innovative FinTech companies in our biggest cities,’ International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.