UK grants 23 additional fishing licences to French boats amid EU deadline

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By Euronews
French fishing boats block the entrance to the port of Calais, northern France, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.
French fishing boats block the entrance to the port of Calais, northern France, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.   -  Copyright  Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP Photo

The UK granted 23 additional licences to French fishing vessels, with licences for 7 additional vessels being reviewed, officials said.

French oceans minister Annick Girardin said on Thursday that they had received more than 1,000 fishing licences but were waiting for licences for nearly 100 vessels amid an ongoing row over the post-Brexit deal.

Girardin threatened litigation if necessary to receive the outstanding licences.

The Brexit divorce agreement finalised in January 2020 allowed EU vessels to continue fishing in UK waters if they could prove they were fishing there before.

France says it has until June 2026 to gradually reduce its fishing quotas in British waters by 25%.

The 23 licences come following a European Commission deadline to conclude all outstanding licence requests by 10 December.

The UK's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said they issued 18 licences to replacement vessels following receipt of new information from the European Commission.

The Channel island of Jersey, meanwhile, issued permanent licences to an additional 5 qualifying vessels currently on temporary licences, the UK said.

The European Commission, which has negotiated for EU vessels, said that in the past two weeks, a total of 83 additional vessels "received clarity" over their fishing in UK waters.

"This decision is an important step in a long process. We will examine together with the French administration the legal circumstances around every licence request that has not been granted," said Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU commissioner for fisheries.

In late November, French fishermen blocked ports and the Channel tunnel, stating that after 11 months they were running out of patience over the outstanding fishing licences.

France had previously threatened to introduce systematic customs and controls on goods coming across the Channel in early November before delaying action to allow talks to continue.