France criticises UK’s ’unacceptable’ fishing decision
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Jayne Adye has said recent research undertaken by her in her role as director of the pro-Brexit campaign group Get Britain Out has made a mockery out of French complaints – because the vast majority of EU fishing licence applications have been approved by the UK Government. Maritime minister Annick Girardin today said France will decide within two weeks on possible retaliation measures after Britain and the Channel Island of Jersey refused dozens of French fishing boats a licence to operate in their territorial waters.
Paris has accused London of playing politics with post-Brexit fishing rights and urged other European Union nations to take a similarly tough stand against what it called Britain’s disregard towards the new trading relationship.
However, Ms Adye was quick to dismiss France’s grievances, pointing to a Freedom of Information request lodged with Defra earlier this year, in which she asked: “How many applications from EU vessels to fish in both the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the UK 6-12 nautical mile range are currently submitted and awaiting approval?”
This revealed that as of August 18, just 84 applications from EU vessels to fish in both the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the UK 6-12 nautical mile range were currently submitted and awaiting approval.
This is in comparison to almost 1,700 vessels which have received their licences since the beginning of the year.
While DEFRA did not hold any information on the number of applications rejected for these waters since the start of 2021, a previous FOI response received by Get Britain Out, revealed not a single application had been rejected out of the thousands which had been received.
Ms Adye said: “This once again, clearly exposes the blatant attempts by EU fishermen – and specifically the French authorities – to try and undermine the sovereignty of the UK, expecting to be given special treatment because they are trying to make a tsunami out of a water ripple.
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If this doesn’t scream of entitlement, then I am not sure what does
“Again, this week we have seen threats of blockades and power cuts to UK and Jersey ports.
“Yet despite the narrative only 84 vessels are awaiting approval to fish in the major fishing waters possessed by this country.
“If this doesn’t scream of entitlement, then I am not sure what does.”
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Ms Adye said the bar set by the UK with respect to fishing licences was “already ludicrously low”, with fishermen simply having to provide proof of fishing in UK waters at some point in the last five years – as well as an ability to track which species of fish they catch and their location by satellite.
She added: “If such a low bar cannot be met, then why should we trust these vessels to fish in our waters?
“Where in the world should any independent coastal nation hand over access to its inshore waters which provide the bedrock for rebuilding a domestic fishing industry?”
Britain could not hope to rebuild its fishing industry if it “surrendered” to EU demands, she stressed.
She added: “The UK will not be blackmailed into surrendering what little control we have over our waters because a handful of fishermen cannot be bothered to fit their vessels with the necessary equipment.
“What have they got to hide?
“It’s about time the UK Government hit back against the ‘Fake News’ spewed out by those on the Continent, consistently trying to undermine our legitimacy and keep us bound to the European Union regardless of our democratic wishes.
“The EU is continually trying to decimate the UK’s reputation on the world stage, leaving us to be perceived by other nations as nothing more than a disobedient colony of the EU.
“The UK will not tolerate this kind of behaviour any longer.”
Speaking today, Ms Girardin said French fishermen should not be taken “hostage” by the British for political ends, suggesting retaliation could involve energy supplies, educational exchanges, trade flows and rail links.
She told reporters: “On every subject, the British are dragging their feet or failing to live up to their commitments.”
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