Paris Threatens to Retaliate in New Fishing Boat Row With UK Over Lack of Licenses

© AFP 2022 / SAMEER AL-DOUMYA French fishing boat, one of several, takes part in a protest in front of the port of Saint Helier off the British island of Jersey to draw attention to what they see as unfair restrictions on their ability to fish in UK waters after Brexit, on May 6, 2021. -
A French fishing boat, one of several, takes part in a protest in front of the port of Saint Helier off the British island of Jersey to draw attention to what they see as unfair restrictions on their ability to fish in UK waters after Brexit, on May 6, 2021. - - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.09.2021
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Paris’ relations with London have already been damaged recently by the new AUKUS alliance between Australia, the UK and the US, which robbed France of a submarine deal worth tens of billions of dollars. Now, long-running tensions over fishing rights threaten to erupt once again.
French officials have warned of potential "retaliatory action" against Britain after the UK authorities rejected dozens of license applications by French fishermen seeking to ply their trade in areas such as the waters off Jersey island –a British Crown dependency situated some 22 km off the French coast, and 140 km from the British mainland.

Jersey authorities announced Wednesday that they had denied fishing licenses to 75 French vessels, granting them to 64 boats along with 31 provisional licenses which will be valid until January and were issued pending the provision of additional information. All unlicensed boats will be required to stop fishing in waters around Jersey within 30 days.

A day earlier, the UK’s department for environment, food and rural affairs said it would grant fishing rights to just 12 European boats out of 47 applications it received to operate in its exclusive economic zone and territorial sea areas. British officials called the decision “reasonable” and well within London’s obligations under the Brexit agreement with the European Union.
French sea minister Annick Girardin blasted the perceived slap in the face, however, characterizing it as a “new refusal of the British to apply the conditions of the Brexit accord,” and stressing that “French fishing must not be taken hostage by the British for political ends.”
France’s minister for Europe, Clement Beaune, warned that Paris would “not hesitate to take retaliatory action” in response to the perceived snub, while a lawmaker from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling Republique en Marche Party warned that the retaliation could target the Channel Tunnel, as well as port facilities.
“Be warned. Since the British are refusing to honour what they signed, as with other Anglo-Saxons in another area, the French fishermen of Boulogne-sur-Me may be obligated, after nine months of useless patience, to envisage ways to retaliate against the UK. For example, by blocking ports of entry to lorries toward the UK through the tunnel,” the official warned, with the “other Anglo-Saxons” phrase presumably referring to the United States and the AUKUS sub deal snub.
2021 already saw an explosion of tensions between the UK and France over fishing rights off Jersey in May, when a flotilla of around 50 French fishing boats blockaded the island in protest against fishing quotas. The crisis escalated after France threatened to cut Jersey’s electricity supplies, and both countries deployed maritime patrol vessels to keep the peace. The tensions were defused in June after London agreed to increase catch quotas for foreign fishing vessels.
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