France and UK Battle over Fishing Requirements in the English Channel

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When the UK formally started the process of leaving the European Union, everyone in Europe and England alike knew there would be headaches associated with the move. After all, an entire country pulling itself out of a longstanding agreement with all of its neighbors is sure to run into some issues relating to imports, exports, and international relations.

One such battle is now a reality, with the UK and France in a spat over access to fishing near the Channel Islands. The English Channel has been a point of contention for the two countries in the past, and now at the center of the newest complication to arise from Brexit.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Brexit has caused things that used to be easy for the UK to be much more difficult. As the UK and France battle over rules in their shared waters, the country prepares for many more fights around its border rules in the years to come.

The UK Makes the Rules

On Friday, the UK published a lengthy list of new requirements for fishing vessels from France that wish to operate in the Channel. France is livid over the new requirements, which the country says should have been cleared with the European Commission before being enacted. As of the time of this writing, the UK has not commented on the matter publicly.

The rules primarily control the mundane aspects of the fishing trade that the general public doesn’t think too much about. New rules governing where fishermen can drop anchor, what kind of equipment they’re authorized to use, and how long they spend in the Channel has incensed the French authorities.

France Doesn’t Agree

“We consider that if new requirements for sea areas or fishing gear are integrated into the licenses, even though they have not been notified to the European Commission, they are null and void,” said the French Ministry of the Sea.

“If the UK wants to introduce new provisions, it must notify them to the European Commission, which notifies them to us, which allows us to engage in a dialogue afterwards,” the Ministry went on. “At this stage, we have discovered these new technical measures which are not applicable to our fishermen as they stand.”

Fishing in the Channel is a huge aspect of the local economies of both Northern France and Southern England. As such, any decisions that restrict French access to the Channel are likely to draw the ire of the French government.