Guernsey issues 40 EU fishing licenses
Guernsey issued fishing licenses to 40 European Union vessels on Wednesday, as part of the latest decision on post-Brexit access rights that has seen Paris and London at loggerheads and blockages threatened.
Some 58 vessels have sent in requests, as well as position and catch data, of which 40 – all recorded in Brittany or Normandy – have been approved, and three more will be released later, authorities in Guernsey said.
France is angry that Britain and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey failed to issue some French boats with permits to fish in their waters after Brexit.
Under the “EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement” signed by London and Brussels at the end of last year, European fishing vessels can continue to navigate in UK waters if they request to new licenses and can prove that they have operated there in the past.
In May, as tensions over access to the British Crown’s autonomous dependencies in the English Channel intensified, French trawlers briefly surrounded Jersey’s main port.
The authorities in Guernsey had so far renewed licenses on a provisional basis, month-to-month, while they considered the applications.
In a statement, they said the licenses announced on Wednesday will allow 40 vessels to continue fishing in Guernsey waters from February 2022, adding that they are acting in accordance with the EU-UK trade deal.
Licenses for three other vessels will be issued “in due course”, officials said.
The other vessels on the provisional list will be able to fish until January 31, 2022.
After that, they will no longer be allowed, unless they can prove that they have historically fished in the waters.
“We have reached an important milestone in our licensing roadmap announced in September,” said Jonathan Le Tocq, Head of Guernsey.
“We appreciate our good relations with Normandy, Brittany and the Channel, and I hope today’s announcement will bring welcome certainty and stability in this new era,” he added.
‘The fight is not over’
French Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin said the licensing was “great news for our fishermen”.
Progress had been made with Guernsey, she added, but said “the fight is not over: 111 licenses are still pending”, mainly from Jersey and London.
So far, the European Commission has expressed satisfaction with the deal, adding that it was the result of “continuous efforts” by the EC, calling it “an important step forward in a complex process”.
Last week, French fishermen disrupted cross-Channel traffic for several hours to protest against post-Brexit fishing rights granted by Britain.
Half a dozen fishing boats have blocked access to ferries from the northern port of Calais and the port of Ouistreham in Normandy to the southwest.
The action by French fishermen came as relations between the two neighbors were at an all-time low in decades and days after a dinghy carrying migrants in the English Channel sank, killing 27 people.
Meanwhile, a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and Norway came into effect on Wednesday.
The deal promises duty-free trade in products, including fish, potentially with benefits for consumers but new competition for the struggling UK fishing industry.
The deal was reached in April, but no agreement on mutual access to each other’s fishing waters.
“This agreement will support businesses in all sectors across the country, from the fishing business in Scotland and Grimsby to innovative FinTech businesses in our larger cities,” said International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.