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France says will fight for every UK fishing licence as European deadline looms

french fishermen block the port of calais as they launch brexit protests
File photo: French fishermen block the port of Calais during a day of protests to mark their anger over the issue of post-Brexit fishing licenses, in Calais, France, November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

A day ahead of a European deadline, France said it was still waiting for Britain to approve nearly 100 licences for its fishermen to operate in UK territorial waters and off Jersey and that last-gasp negotiations were ongoing.

Fishing rights plagued Brexit talks for years and continue to poison relations between Britain and France, not because of their economic importance but because of their political resonance for both sides.

Britain and the EU agreed to set up a licensing system to grant fishing vessels access to each other’s waters but France says it has not been given the full number it is due, while Britain says only those lacking the correct documentation have not been granted.

Annick Girardin, France’s seas minister, said the outstanding licences were “more or less confirmed” but that her government would continue to fight for each licence.

“Nobody should be left stranded on the dock,” she told ministers.

Girardin said 53 of the missing licences were to fish in the water 6-12 miles of Britain’s shores, most of which were sought by boats which had replaced older vessels and Britain says cannot prove a history of fishing in its waters.

Paris has accused London repeatedly of acting in bad faith and failing to honour the post-Brexit trade deal it signed up to.

The European Commission has set a Dec., 10 deadline for Britain to resolve the demands of member-states for outstanding licences.

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