Britain and France Fight Over Fish

British and French fishing vessels were involved in clashes in the English Channel on Tuesday over a longstanding dispute over scallop fishing regulations.

British and French fishing vessels were involved in clashes in the English Channel, 2018, over scallop fishing regulations. Photo: France Televisions

Europeans take their fishing seriously as demonstrated by the latest conflict between the UK and France. Here is one of many reports on the subject.

The question revolves around the Brits agreeing to license a number of French fishing vessels, but requiring proof that they had fished in British waters prior to Brexit.

If it were I, I would say, you French can decide which boats should get the limited number of licenses, that would make it an internal French conflict rather than UK vs France (and EU).

5 thoughts on “Britain and France Fight Over Fish

    • The UK has given out 98% of the licences requested. The issue appears to be around a small number of French boats that have no evidence that they fished in British waters between 2016 and 2020. As a result they can’t get a licence….the cynical would suggest the reason why they can’t proffer the evidence, that 98% of the applications to date can, is because theyve either never fished there….or did so illegally….

      If you think its bad now…this is just the opening shots, all down to the UK leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy as a result of Brexit. The CFP was massively unpopular and caused huge harm to British fisheries and fishing communities. But from 2026 the transitional agreement ends…at that point the UK can ban any EU vessels from fishing in UK waters, a move that is massively popular with the electorate.The effect of that would be to destroy some nations entire fishing industries who are utterly dependent on access to UK waters, for a significant part of the French northern coast fishermen it would be the end (as well as the Belgian, Dutch and Danish). For the Irish it becomes a massive issue as their waters suddenly get crowded by French, Spanish and other boats, which will go down like a lead balloon politically (and already is to be fair).

      Given that context you’d think the French would play nice…at the moment they’re playing a really dumb game politically, any UK politician who doesn’t drastically reduce EU access to UK waters in 2026 is making a rod for their own back…

      Personally I’ve reached the point where it just makes sense politically and economically to lance the boil and just stick to our own waters on both sides, at least them the interminable threats and endless negotiations around access are finally at an end (discussions around catch sizes and stocks will obviously need to continue as fish don’t respect EEZ’s when they move around…but hopefully we can see those reduce as well in line with scientific advice and continue the good work of restoring the fisheries).

      • As you probably know, at least last I heard, the US does not license any foreign vessels to fish in US waters. Boats have to be built in the US and have US crews. They are sometimes owned by foreign companies and may have company advisers aboard. (Who sometime function as defacto captain.)

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