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Tensions Still High Over UK-French Fishing Agreement

Tensions Still High Over UK-French Fishing Agreement
Source: DW

In the wake of a post-Brexit fishing battle with Britain, French trawler owners in Normandy have expressed their dissatisfaction with President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to extend a Tuesday deadline by two days.

Macron stated that the United Kingdom now has until Thursday to issue extra licenses for French vessels to fish in British seas or risk repercussions. If no solution is found, France has threatened to ban British vessels from several of its ports and to increase checks on boats and trucks transporting British products. Paris has also hinted that it may limit energy supply to the Channel Islands, which rely largely on French power.

“We have no idea what to anticipate.” Every day, we discover something new,” said Samuel Deshayes, the owner of a trawler in Granville, Normandy’s northern area. “We are not going to let up until everyone obtains a driver’s license.”

He stated that he believes the British are being dishonest.

Many French fisherman are blaming the Channel Islands, which include Jersey and Guernsey and are self-governing British crown dependencies with vital authority over their own territorial seas. France claims that Jersey, which is barely 14 miles (22 kilometers) off France’s coast, hasn’t provided enough licenses to French ships.

“I’m not sure why there’s an issue in Jersey.” “Even the English are baffled as to why Jersey is resisting,” Deshayes continued.

Jersey’s government retaliated by providing 49 interim permits to French vessels. It stated the vessels will be permitted to fish in Jersey seas until January 31 to “allow time” for more data to be collected before permanent licenses are issued.

According to Emmanuel Lecoufle, owner of the French trawler Arc en Ciel in Granville, providing so few licenses won’t make much of a difference.

“It is insufficient. There are about 200 vessels on the waiting list. He stated, “It’s nothing at all, 49 licenses.”

Meanwhile, the owners of French trawlers who have been granted an extended license are unsure what will happen on the ocean.

Macron’s administration said on Monday that negotiations will continue this week and that no action would be taken until a crucial meeting on Thursday.

Throughout the long-running disagreement, the British government has stated that it is not involved in negotiations and that it is up to France to resolve the problem, which revolves over fishing permits in the English Channel. Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, the row has become a major stumbling block in ties between the two countries.

The British government applauded France’s decision to postpone its deadline.

“We are ready to continue intense negotiations on fisheries, including evaluating any fresh information to support the remaining licensing applications,” the UK government said in a statement. “We applaud France’s recognition that in-depth conversations are required to address the spectrum of issues plaguing the UK-EU relationship.”

Britain’s Brexit minister, David Frost, and France’s Europe Minister, Clement Beaune, will meet in Paris on Thursday, according to the two governments.

The fishing row has turned into a huge UK-French feud, with both sides accusing the other of breaking the Brexit trade agreement that the UK signed when it exited the EU.

Authorities in the Channel Islands and the United Kingdom have rejected French vessels fishing licences in seas where they have long traveled, scooping up lobster, sea snails, sea bream, and other fish from the English Channel, according to Paris. Britain claims to have approved 98 percent of EU vessel applications, a figure that has been questioned by French officials.

According to the United Kingdom, a small number of boats have been denied licences due to a lack of supporting documentation.

Fishing is a small business in terms of revenue, but it has a significant symbolic value for both the United Kingdom and France, both of which have old and beloved marine histories. Both sides have had control of their waterways since the beginning of the year, subject to the post-Brexit trade arrangement.