French President Emmanuel Macron threatened to veto the Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU during negotiations as disagreements over fishing rights grew hostile. A trade deal was eventually reached, giving UK fishing boats a larger share of fish. The deal dictates that 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the British fleet over a period of five years. After that, there will be annual negotiations to decide how the catch is shared out between the UK and EU, and Britain would have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026.
One of the key issues regarding post-Brexit fishing is the future of the Channel Islands.
Recent comments from an ally of President Macron have sparked anger in Jersey, as she argued terms of the trade deal should be changed.
The Brexit trade deal gives Jersey the sole power over licences for all boats, but French vessels with historical fishing activity in Jersey waters will continue to have access and could still outnumber Jersey boats.
This arrangement replaced the Bay of Granville Treaty – an accord that was not popular with some in Jersey as it allowed French authorities to license their own boats to fish in the island’s waters.
Annick Girardin, France’s Minister of the Sea, said that the French government has contacted the EU to try return to the old system, not even a month after the transition period had ended.
She said in January: “We have 90 days to possibly make a new treaty. France has already signalled to the European Commission that we want to reactivate the Bay of Granville Treaty to how it was but, at present, Jersey refuses to do this.
“It is in our interest to get ready for battle immediately. The fight has only just begun.”
External Relations Minister in Jersey, Ian Gorst, described France’s efforts as “unconscionable” as he warned the post-Brexit UK–EU trade and co-operation agreement, known as the TCA, should be preserved.
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He added: “I’m at the end of my working life but he [Johnson] made promises directly to fishermen and I am very disappointed for them. We should be rebuilding our fleet, encouraging our youngsters. We should be planning for a resurgence instead of being sold down the river again.”
Last month, fishermen from across the UK protested in London as Brexit impacts exports of fish and seafoods into Europe.
Businesses have encountered new border controls since the UK’s transition period ended earlier this month.
Prime Minister Johnson pledged £23million to help businesses affected by Brexit.