Jersey: French boats join post-Brexit fishing rights protest
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And pro-Brexit campaigner Jayne Adye has said the “shocking” revelation raises serious questions about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s frequently stated claim to have taken back control after Brexit. Ms Adye, director of the pro-Brexit campaign group Get Britain Out, submitted the request to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, along with another relating to the total number of fishing licences issued to EU vessels in respect of the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in March.
She asked: “What information do you hold on the number of licences granted to EU vessels to fish in the 6-12 nautical mile range of UK waters since December 31, 2020?”
Defra’s response states: “We can confirm that no applications to fish in the 6-12 nautical mile range have been rejected to date. Therefore this information is not held.”
In response to another FOI, Defra last week confirmed 1,659 boats have so far been granted licences to fish in our EEZ waters – including eight supertrawlers.
The response is frankly shocking
Ms Adye said: “The response is frankly shocking – 105 vessels have also been granted licences to fish inside our 6-12 nautical mile range.”
Questioning why the UK was giving away its assets while getting little or nothing in return, she also took aim at the “sheer arrogance” of European fishermen complaining about being cut off from UK waters.
Ms Adye added: “The evidence clearly shows anyone who wants to fish in UK waters can currently send in a licence application, and it will be approved.
“It is about time the Government puts an end to this, so our own fishermen can rebuild their industry and their communities!”
She said: “‘Taking Back Control’ of our waters is all well and good, but if you fail to use this control to actually make any changes, then it is wasted.
“This is comparable to claiming you have secured our borders while approving every visa application.
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“With such a large number of foreign vessels allowed to fish our waters, and not a single rejected licence, how can the Government expect the UK’s domestic fishing industry to ever recover?”
Ms Adye’s comments came less than a fortnight after Boris Johnson sent Royal Navy vessels to Jersey in response to threats by French fishermen to blockade the island in a dispute over fishing access.
Speaking earlier this week, Cabinet Minister Lord David Frost insisted said the UK did not “choose gunboat diplomacy”.
UK did not “choose gunboat diplomacy”.
Appearing in front of MPs, the minister said “too many” in Europe had thought there would be no change in fishing arrangements for five and a half years after Brexit.
And he insisted lots of French fishing vessels had been licensed to operate in UK waters after a 60-strong demonstration at the port of St Helier earlier this month.
He told MPs: “We have the right to regulate our own waters in a totally different way, to licence fishing vessels and so on, and obviously getting used to that is at the root of some of the difficulty.”
Lord Frost said he was sure the situation would “settle down”.
However, he added: “We don’t choose gunboat diplomacy but obviously we were reacting to a demonstration that could have caused severe practical problems for Jersey, and it didn’t cause any problems, and I like to think that our naval presence was part of that.”
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