French fisheries may be exposed in UK 'tit-for-tat' says expert
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Chief Exec of the National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations Barrie Deas appeared on BBC Radio 4 where he was invited to discuss the ongoing row between the UK and France over fishing licences. The fishing boss believed it was “strange” for the French to pursue a “tit-for-tat” relationship with the UK on the issue as the French have far more to lose due to their reliance on British waters. Mr Deas ultimately concluded the reason for France’s hostilities is because it is being politicised in France as there is a looming presidential election that may seek to exploit the issue to win over voters.
Discussing the issue on Radio 4, Mr Deas told the station he believed French authorities were being “opportunists” with their fishing licence applications and deliberately sent over bogus applications to see if they may be accepted.
He added the situation could be easily solved around a table but there seemed to be a deliberate attempt from France to continue the hostilities.
He explained: “UK vessels landing into French ports is not massive.
“It’s a bit strange because the French fleets fish much more in UK waters than we fish in their waters.
“And therefore, if we descend into a tit-for-tat relationship, I think the French fleet are very much more exposed.
“I don’t think that’s a helpful way to go, but it’s just it’s a strange direction for the French to take, which is why we conclude that this is all being politicised.”
France has threatened the UK with a wave of different measures after a large portion of French fishing licences were rejected by the Government.
As part of the post-Brexit deal, French boats can only operate in UK waters if they have historically operated there as the UK tries to put a cap on new boats entering.
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But after a large portion of French boats were rejected, namely because they could not provide sufficient evidence of operating in the waters, the French Government has retaliated with several threats.
These include limiting Jersey’s electricity supply which is provided in France, halting UK boats from landing at French ports, and even further threats of protests.
France also announced overnight it detained a British trawler that has been operating in French waters without a licence and issued a warning to another.
One was fined after preventing French authorities from checking the boat, although it was revealed they had not broken any rules on eventual inspection.
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In a tweet, the French Maritime Ministry said: “This Wednesday, two English ships were fined during classic checks off Le Havre.
“The first did not comply spontaneously: verbalization.
“The second did not have a licence to fish in our waters: diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority.”
The fishing licence dispute has hit the island of Jersey the hardest as they grapple with French authorities and boats who demand access to their territorial waters.
As part of the post-Brexit agreement, French boats can only operate in Jersey waters if able to prove they have historically operated there.
But administration issues meant many boats lacked the correct documentation to prove they have worked in the waters.
The UK Government has allowed several extensions to the grace period to allow French boats to process their applications but tensions flared up once more when a large majority of applications were recently rejected.
A large portion of French boats have been denied access to UK waters to fish with only 12 of 47 granted licences.
Jersey also rejected 75 out of 170 applications, furthering tensions.
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