UK risks French anger over fishing permits

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  • Brexit

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Fresh tensions have surfaced between Britain and France over post-Brexit fishing rights.

In the latest round of applications, the UK granted just 12 licences from 47 bids for smaller vessels to fish in its territorial waters.

French sea minister Annick Girardin reportedly said: "French fishing must not be taken hostage by the British for political ends."

The UK said it would consider further evidence to support remaining bids.

Overall, the UK has granted 117 EU licences for its inshore territorial waters – almost 1,700 EU vessels have been licensed to fish in UK waters.

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Ms Girardin, quoted in French newspaper Le Monde, said: "It is a new refusal of the British to apply the conditions of the Brexit accord despite all the work undertaken together.

"I have only one watchword; to obtain definitive licences for our fishermen as the accord foresees."

A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the UK's approach "has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)".

"As regards the 6-12nm zone, as set out in the TCA, EU vessels must provide evidence of a track record of fishing activity in those waters," he added.

Meanwhile, an announcement on post-Brexit permits around the island of Jersey, a Crown dependency, is expected later.

In May, two Royal Navy ships were sent to patrol the area after French fishermen staged a protest outside the port of St Helier.

The fishermen complained about being prevented from operating in British waters because of difficulties in obtaining licences.

Under an agreement with the EU, French boat operators must show a history of fishing in the area to receive a licence for Jersey's waters. But it has been claimed additional requirements were added without notice.

The row led Ms Girardin to threaten to cut off Jersey's electricity supply – 95% of which is delivered by three underwater cables from France.

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