France is attacking new UK post-Brexit rules restricting access to UK waters and calling on French fishermen to retaliate
- The government has given 41 vessels limited permits to fish off Jersey
- However, the French claim this has been accompanied by new demands that violate the agreement
- Paris says London imposed these measures without consulting Brussels
- The fishermen have threatened new protests to stop British boats from landing in France
France has opposed post-Brexit rules restricting access to UK waters, claiming that London is making arbitrary changes without consulting Brussels.
French fishermen last night threatened to prevent British boats from landing in France if London continued to restrict fishing off Jersey as the EU warned of “discriminatory measures against our fishermen”.
The UK government has approved 41 trawlers with VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) technology, which can be used to locate vessels in order to fish in waters off Jersey.
The French Ministry of Fisheries claims that London has effectively enacted new zoning rules for the waters – “where ships can and cannot go”, as well as the number of days fishermen can spend at sea and with what machinery.
More than a hundred French fishermen blocked trucks carrying fish from the UK last month. Last night, one of their leaders threatened similar action over Jersey restrictions
Fishing boats are seen in a port in France. Dimitri Rogoff, president of the Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee in northern France, said if French fishermen continued to be kept out of Jersey waters, repression should be taken.
Paris claims London imposed new requirements while imposing VMS equipment “which were not arranged or discussed and we were not informed about”.
Dimitri Rogoff, president of the Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee in northern France, said if French fishermen continued to be kept out of Jersey waters, repression should be taken.
“Jersey fishermen shouldn’t be able to land in Granville,” he said, referring to the French port closest to the island.
French fishermen started a protest last month blocking trucks bringing fish from the UK to France over complaints that few of their vessels have been licensed to operate in UK waters.
France and the UK have been arguing over fishing in recent weeks. French fishermen said difficulties in obtaining licenses have prevented them from operating in British waters.
The French Ministry of Fisheries said the UK had introduced “new technical measures” regarding licenses to fish off the Channel Islands that had not been properly reported to the European Union under the Brexit agreement.
“We believe that the new requirements for sea zones or fishing equipment, if they are included in the licenses – if the European Commission has not been notified – are void,” the ministry told AFP.
The ministry said it was strictly adhering to the agreement that was signed for fisheries under the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union on January 1st.
“If the UK wants to introduce new measures, it has to notify the European Commission, which in turn notifies us – this allows us to have a dialogue,” said the ministry.
“These new technical measures do not currently apply to our fishermen.”
French fishermen block trucks carrying fish landed in the UK during a protest in the fishing port in Boulogne-sur-Mer on April 23
Fisheries proved to be one of the toughest issues in the hectic negotiations that led to Britain’s exit from the EU, with London closely guarding control of its waters as a symbol of its sovereignty.
France said it had expressed its displeasure with the surprise measures taken by the European Commission.
Commission spokeswoman Vivian Loonela said the EU had done “intensive joint work” with the UK government to resolve the problem.
“Any condition should be communicated in a timely manner so that the other party has enough time to comment or adjust,” she said of the new UK requirements.
“In addition, such conditions cannot discriminate against our fishermen.”