French withdraws retaliation threat as eased as news broke that the Government of Jersey had issued 49 temporary licences to fishing vessels
Tensions between the UK and France eased slightly last night as news broke that the Government of Jersey had issued 49 temporary licenses to French fishing vessels, allowing them to operate in Jersey waters.
The heated dispute between France and the UK threatened to boil over with the French making threats of retaliation starting today if all their fishing vessels had not been granted fishing licenses for British and territorial waters as they believed was agreed under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
The UK Government had told the French that it had issued licenses to 98% of the EU-registered fishing fleet under the terms that these vessels could offer proof of a track record of fishing in its waters.
For smaller French boats who operated around Jersey, this became a problem as they were not required to be fitted with an AIS tracking system or carry a logbook. Therefore, when they could offer no proof of a track record of operating in UK waters they were being excluded from obtaining a fishing licence.
French retaliation included more checks at the border on goods coming from the UK, excluding UK-registered fishing vessels from its waters and hiking tariffs on electricity supplied to the Channel Islands.
On Wednesday, 27 October, as part of the escalation of action against the UK, two UK-registered trawlers were fined and one, the Cornelis Gert-Jan was detained by the French Maritime Gendarmerie. Unfortunately for the skipper and the crew of the Scottish-owned vessel, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) had left the boats registration off a list that was sent to EU/French authorities. The skipper and crew remain under detention in Le Havre as boat-owners Macduff Shellfish seek to pay a release bond of £125,000.
On the announcement of the French Government’s decision to withdraw the threats of retaliation, last night a UK Spokesperson said:
“We welcome the French Government’s announcement that they will not go ahead with implementing their proposed measures as planned tomorrow.
“The UK has set out its position clearly on these measures in recent days.
“As we have said consistently, we are ready to continue intensive discussions on fisheries, including considering any new evidence to support the remaining license applications.
“We welcome France’s acknowledgement that in-depth discussions are needed to resolve the range of difficulties in the UK/EU relationship. Lord Frost has accepted Clément Beaune’s invitation and looks forward to the discussions in Paris on Thursday.”
Lord Frost tweeted to Clément Beaune, the French State Secretary for European Affairs, “I look forward to our talks in Paris on Thursday.”
Luke Pollard, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary has called for the French to release the detained UK-registered Cornelis-Gert Jan in an effort to de-escalate tensions further.
He said, “The French should release the detained fishing boat and the British Government should acknowledge the boat did have the correct fishing licence, but UK Govt didn’t send the correct information to the French.