Fishing: French behaving in 'appalling manner' says Gardiner
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The French and British Governments have been exchanging threats and hostile accusations with greater frequency in recent weeks as the ongoing fishing row escalates. Key talks between both sides will take place on Thursday with the aim being to resolve the disagreement. But a risk of further escalation remains – especially in the wake of new figures published by the UK Fisheries Minister which show 98 percent of EU fishing applications were approved, despite claims to the contrary from France.
The UK Government has shared figures related to fishing licences amid the ongoing post-Brexit fishing row.
In a written statement, Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said 98 percent of applications from the EU have been approved.
Ms Prentis revealed a total of 1,831 EU applications were received by Britain.
Of those, 1,793 were approved for fishing in the UK’s six to 12 and 12 to 200-mile zones.
The statement also revealed the nation approved all 1,678 applications for EU trawlers to operate in the 12 to 200 nautical mile zone.
This included 736 French boats – despite claims from France the UK granted just 12 licences out of 47 bids.
The breakdown of applications was more complicated for the six to 12-mile zone as they were split into two categories: boats shorter and longer than 12m.
According to Ms Prentis, there are currently 21 Belgian and 88 French applications for vessels longer than 12m, of which 17 from Belgium and 85 from France have been approved.
French fishermen, who claimed to be deceived by Britain after just 12 out 47 licence applications were successful in Jersey, have called on the European Commission to take “retaliatory measures” for the action.
The fishing licence debate is at the heart of escalating tensions between Paris and London.
This row mainly pertains to boats under 12m.
For this category, France has submitted 50 applications according to the ministerial statement, of which 19 have been approved and 31 are pending.
From the bloc, 17 out of 31 pending applications have been withdrawn due to “poor evidence”.
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Amid the ongoing debate, French Ministers, including the European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune and Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin have accused the UK of failing to adhere to the Brexit deal as it relates to fishing rights.
In response, these ministers have threatened to take severe measures to coerce Britain into adhering to demands from Paris.
France has threatened several different courses of action, including switching off Britain’s power, blocking French ports and increasing border checks.
In response, Brexit Minister Lord David Frost has repeatedly said he is disappointed in France’s response, claiming the tit for tat retaliatory measures are ineffective in making progress in negotiations.
Tempers appear to be calming since the hotpoint of the row in the past few weeks, with the French Government this week praising Britain for its “constructive” spirit in ongoing talks.
The French Transport Minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, said he had spoken to his UK counterpart on Tuesday evening.
He said “the spirit is a constructive one” noting French fishers had been granted 49 more licences on Monday.
EU officials also spoke of the row with optimism before a meeting between the UK Brexit minister, David Frost, and the French Europe minister, Clément Beaune, in Paris on Thursday.
Today a European Commission spokesperson said: “Officials from the UK, France, Jersey and the commission have been meeting for the past two days.
“These talks have allowed us to chart the way forward on several aspects and have created a positive dynamic aiming at a solution.”
The Commission spokesperson said technical talks would continue in Guernsey on Wednesday.
They added: “The talks have allowed for better understanding of the outstanding issues, which have been impeding quicker progress and we hope that the positive engagement on all sides will soon translate into concrete results.”
Officials are expected to focus on the applications from 14 vessels seeking access to UK waters and a further 13 requesting permits to fish off the coast of Jersey, according to Annick Girardin, France’s Maritime Minister.
The French courts also today decided the British scallop dredger Cornelis Gert Jan – a vessel seized in French waters last week – would be released, and it is now setting sail from Le Havre.
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