Brexit row: Macron deploys new secret weapon in fishing fight – ‘Mr Licence’ dispatched

Brexit: Retired civil servant discusses fishing row

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Philippe de Lambert des Granges began his mission in Boulogne-sur-Mer, a major fishing port on the northern coast of France opposite Hastings, on Tuesday. He will meet with members of the French fishing industry throughout this week and the next two weeks, and today (Thursday) will be in Dunkirk, according to French trade magazine Le Marin.

He was appointed to the mission by Annick Girardin, the French Minister of the Sea.

Mr de Lambert des Granges warned that the meetings “are not a sign of the end of the negotiations”.

He added: “My main mission is to understand the impact of Brexit on the activity of fishermen and their professional prospects, to see what I could then recommend to the Minister in order to support them.”

Mr de Lambert des Granges intends to submit the “most appropriate” measures, which could reportedly range from economic aid to modernisation of the industry.

A graduate of the School of Maritime Affairs, he was previously director of the Brexit project at the French ministries responsible for maritime activity and agriculture between 2019 and September last year.

According to the Ministry of the Sea, he will be responsible for “supporting each fisherman who has not obtained a licence”.

Ms Girardin said upon the announcement of his new role in December that she appointed him “due to his perfect mastery of Brexit issues”.

She added: “Obviously, work continues to assert our rights, according to the wishes of the President [Emmanuel Macron]”.

The Brexit agreement reached between the UK and the EU at the end of 2020 has led to resentment and retaliation from the French over what it perceives to be a lack of access to UK waters for its fishermen.

French ministers reacted angrily to fewer fishing licences being granted by the UK and Jersey than had been requested for French vessels.

In October, a British scallop trawler was seized off the coast of France as French authorities believed it did not have a licence to fish in French waters. It was later overturned by a French court and the vessel released.

At the time, the seizure was seen as a potentially being a politically-motivated move.

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On December 11, Jersey gave permanent licences to a further five French vessels, taking the total to 130.

However, that left 33 vessels with temporary licences due to expire on January 31. 54 other applications were rejected.

As of December 15, the Government said it had received 50 applications for small French fishing boats, and had issued 19 licences.

There were signals early in December that the dispute may have been resolved through EU-mediated talks.

However, just before Christmas, France said it would initiate legal action against the UK in January.

Under the withdrawal agreement, 25 percent of the EU’s fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred over to the UK from 2021 to 2026.

However, the majority of that was transferred in 2021, with a further 2.5 percent being transferred over in the following four years.

This “adjustment period” allows EU fishers time to get used to the new arrangements. They have until 30 June 2026, after which there will be annual negotiations to decide how the catch is shared between the UK and the EU.

By 2026, it is estimated that UK boats will have access to an extra £145million of fishing quota every year.

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