Guernsey issues 43 licences to French fishermen in post-Brexit fishing dispute

Guernsey issues 43 licences to French fishermen in post-Brexit fishing dispute
France said it is still waiting on dozens more licences from Britain and Jersey

Guernsey has issued all the post-Brexit fishing licences France says its fishermen are entitled to for fishing in waters around the UK.

The Channel island announced on Twitter that it has granted 43 licences for fishing vessels registered in Brittany and Normandy.

The licences were issued under Article 502 of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which stipulates that fishermen can fish in British waters if they apply for a licence and can prove they operated there in the past.

The 43 licences mean that the fishermen can continue to fish in the English Channel from February next year.

Guernsey official Jonathan Le Tocq said: “We have reached a significant milestone in our licensing roadmap announced back in September.

“We value our good relationships with Normandy, Brittany and La Manche, and I hope that today’s announcement provides welcome certainty and stability in this new era.”

France’s seas minister Annick Girardin said the new licences is “excellent news” but that French fishermen are still waiting for dozens more from Britain and Jersey.

France has said that Britain is failing to respect their agreed licensing system, an accusation that the latter denies.

Guernsey’s authorities had so far renewed licences on an interim monthly basis while it had considered the applications.

The other vessels on the interim list will be able to fish until 31 January next year. After that, they can only fish in British waters if they can provide evidence that they fished there in the past.

The long-standing fishing dispute is one issue that has caused immense friction between the UK and France.

French president Emmanuel Macron, who faces an election next year, has said his government will not rest until his fishermen have all the licences they are owed.

The EU has given Britain until 10 December to take action to help resolve the issue.

French fishermen protested last week by temporarily blockading the port of Calais and Channel Tunnel rail link in efforts to disrupt trade between Britain and the continent.

The action was taken days after 27 migrants died in the Channel after the dinghy carrying them deflated and capsized.