France’s Maritime Minister says she will be meeting with EU fishing leaders in Luxembourg next week to devise a campaign to punish Jersey and the UK as part of her 15-day “plan of action” to “get my licences back."
One day after raising the Channel Island power cut threat again, French political officials yesterday came together to discuss tactics and potential retaliatory measures if Jersey, Guernsey and the UK don’t provide every one of the desired post-Brexit fishing licences.
Last week, Jersey announced that up to 95 small boats could be given a licence to fish in its waters, but told 75 boats that they did not meet the criteria and had 30 days’ notice to stop fishing around Jersey and its reefs.
#Brexit | Point d’étape avec @CBeaune, les parlementaires ????????????????, les conseils régionaux, les conseils départementaux et les maires concernés, sur la mise en œuvre de notre plan d'action en faveur de nos pêcheurs. Nous sommes déterminés à obtenir gain de cause. #IWantMyLicensesBack pic.twitter.com/vPJz4jUu4w— Annick Girardin (@AnnickGirardin) October 6, 2021
A document shared in yesterday’s meeting of French regional representatives and mayors identified the need to provide data about where boats had fished previously under the licensing regime as a key “blockage."
It said that smaller boats under 12m were struggling because they often lacked tracking systems, so France had tried to provide alternative justifications.
Following the meeting, Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin did not reveal exactly what retaliatory measures were being discussed but simply wrote: “We are determined to succeed. #IWantMyLicensesBack [sic].”
At the meeting was European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, who on Tuesday alluded to cutting electricity to the Channel Islands again,
#Brexit | A distance (de Slovénie) mais mobilisé avec @AnnickGirardin pour échanger avec tous les élus concernés, faire respecter ensemble l’accord signé et défendre nos pêcheurs exaspérés ???????????????????? pic.twitter.com/zihrmBpsSu— Clement Beaune (@CBeaune) October 6, 2021
Meanwhile, President of the Hauts-de-France fishing committee Olivier Lepretre, who met with Mme. Girardin last week, this week suggested “blocking the port of Calais and exports to the United Kingdom for the period leading up to Christmas."
Whatever form such retaliatory action takes will be revealed by the end of this month, according to Mme. Girardin's 15-day bid to “obtain definitive fishing licences in the standoff with the UK”, which she made public for the first time yesterday.
Having already launched a "communications offensive" and held various Ministerial meetings in line with the plan, the next steps are:
Monday 11 October - meeting in Luxembourg with European fishing ministers to prepare a list of retaliatory measures;
TBC - meeting in Brussels with the European Fishing Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius to discuss retaliatory measures;
TBC - meeting with professionals and elected representatives from each region;
second half of October – announcing the European and French response.
“The plan of action is clear: assemble our partners and initiate the necessary retaliatory action!” Mme. Girardin said.
French MEP and President of the European Fisheries Committee, Pierre Karleskind responded by pledging his support to the campaign, adding that he had spoken to the Fisheries Commissioner earlier in the day.
Brexit : j’ai échangé ce jour avec le Commissaire à la pêche @VSinkevicius. Mobilisés pour obtenir les licences pour nos pêcheurs ????????!— Pierre Karleskind (@Pierre_Ka) October 5, 2021
Je serai présent à votre invitation Madame la Ministre pour maintenir la pression sur les Britanniques ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/9bfYX5XLVE
As tensions continue, France is offering fishers compensation of up to 70% for losses resulting from licensing issues in the short-term.
In the long-term, she said that France would have a voluntary “fleet exit plan” in place by early 2022 for fishers that depended on British waters but wanted to leave, and a €100m stimulus plan to develop the fishing industry.
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