French Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, announced Thursday that Paris would soon present “retaliatory measures” in response to the low number of British licenses granted to French fishermen, a “limited” number that the European Commission “regrets”. “We have a calendar of actions which will be presented to professionals at the beginning of next week”, declared the Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin on Europe 1. “With European action, national action, of course in the direction of the British and also from our Jersey neighbors, with the announcement of retaliatory measures. “
“I want my license back”
“I hope that the 15 days before us will be devoted to this work which will then be expressed very directly in the United Kingdom”, continued Annick Girardin before concluding: “I want my license back” in reference to Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister British from 1979 to 1990, who launched “I want my money back” in Dublin on November 30, 1979, at the end of a summit of heads of state members of the European Community, numbering nine countries at that time.
On Wednesday, the Anglo-Norman island of Jersey announced the granting of 64 definitive licenses to French boats (against 169 requested by Paris) and the rejection of 75 files. The day before, London had granted twelve additional authorizations in its waters, within the limit of six to twelve nautical miles from its coasts (against 87 requested). “We regret that the number of licenses granted is so limited,” reacted the European Commission on Thursday, through its spokesperson Vivian Loonela. “We are asking the United Kingdom to share its methodology with us,” she added during a press briefing.
Licenses complicated to obtain
“We find that the issue of licensing is quite complex when it comes to small vessels, as they are not legally required to register their positions and activities electronically,” continued Vivian Loonela. “With all the information the Commission has provided to the UK and Jersey authorities, we have provided all available and relevant evidence that demonstrates the historical activity for these ongoing licenses,” she said.
The post-Brexit agreement, reached in extremis at the end of last year between London and Brussels, provides that European fishermen can continue to work in certain British waters on condition that they obtain a license, granted if they can prove that they fished there before. “I have been fishing in English waters for 38 years, I have provided all the evidence, and I do not have the license. However, some boats which have hardly ever set foot there have obtained it. there is no logic in the allocation of licenses, “fisherman Christophe Lhomel told AFP in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Hauts-de-France.
For his part, the president of the regional fisheries committee Olivier Leprêtre warned: “If there is nothing that changes within a period of 15 days to three weeks, then the professionals will show their teeth.” “I’m not going to talk about a port blocking, but one thing is certain: British products will be blocked,” he said.