France rejects UK's post-Brexit provisional changes to fishing licences

Photo: AFP Fishermen aboard the Newhaven fishing boat after the first trawl of the day, off the south-east coast of England on 12 October 2020.

France has called on the European Commission to intervene after rejecting Britain’s provisional changes to fishing licences under the Brexit agreement, which would affect fishing rights in the Channel Islands, AFP reports.

France’s ministry for maritime affairs said Monday that it considered the new requirements put forth by the UK as “null and void” and called for a strict compliance on fisheries as negotiated under the Brexit agreement.

"If the UK wants to introduce new provisions then it must submit these to the European Commission, who then notifies us, which enables us to engage in a dialogue. At this stage, we find that these new technical measures are not applicable to our fishermen as they stand,” the ministry told AFP.

The new provisions concern new fishing zones, particularly around the waters of Jersey Island, “where vessels can and cannot go”, while specifying the “number of days” fishermen can spend at sea and “with what gear”, the department said.

On Friday, the UK published a list of 41 fishing vessels equipped with Vessel Monitoring Systems and authorised to fish in waters around Jersey Island since Saturday.

The European Commission had been informed of the new provisions and was expected to “enter into a dialogue with the United Kingdom to understand what the changes mean and to provide us with some clarifications", the ministry said.

"It is clear that there will need to be a response to what the Jersey authorities have done in relation to fishing authorisations. We hope that the state will take retaliatory measures," said Dimitri Rogoff, president of the Normandy regional fisheries committee.

The regional fisheries committees of Brittany and Normandy have threatened "a suspension of all economic relations with Jersey, including the ferry link between Jersey and the Continent", in a joint statement sent to AFP.

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