Local fishing hampered by ‘too much Brexit red tape’

UNFAIR Brexit red tape is costing fishermen time and money, one of them has said.

Guernsey fishermen are unhappy to find efforts to allow them to fish in French waters are being backstopped by five times more paperwork followed by refusals for ‘minor errors’. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29183984)
Guernsey fishermen are unhappy to find efforts to allow them to fish in French waters are being backstopped by five times more paperwork followed by refusals for ‘minor errors’. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29183984)

While talks are continuing to allow ongoing French fishing in Bailiwick waters, Guernsey fishermen are unhappy to find efforts to allow them to fish in French waters are being backstopped by five times more paperwork followed by refusals for ‘minor errors’.

One fisherman, who did not want to be named because of concerns that many French fishermen knew him, said the French had been given easier access to Bailiwick waters, while they were struggling to go through the recently introduced official process to do likewise.

‘There’s so much red tape,’ he said.

‘We now have to submit applications prior, pre, and for every and each fish we catch, notify the North Atlantic Fisheries College Marine Centre, contact French Customs and then the French fishing market.

‘There’s at least five times as much paperwork than before, whereas the French just ask for authorisation and will soon just have to apply for a licence. They have exactly what they had before and it doesn’t seem fair when we’re paying for it.

‘The result is we’ll go to France less often and they’ll just decimate our waters, a lot of the smaller boats here will not survive.’

The Bailiwick is due to put in place a licensing regime for French fishermen on 1 April, up until then interim authorisations are being allowed.

The new licensing under the terms of the new UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement will allow French vessels to be able to apply for a licence to fish in the six to 12nm area to the west of the Bailiwick.

This is where they previously had access under the London Fisheries Convention.

For Bailiwick fishermen, although Cherbourg, Carteret and Granville are already designated ports for direct landings, since the start of the year they have been unable to land catches in Dielette.

A States of Guernsey spokesman said it was still being looked into, following ongoing talks with the Regional Council of Normandy and the Departmental Council of La Manche about the next chapter in the Bailiwick’s relationship with the EU, specifically with France.

‘Discussions with the French authorities are ongoing relating to the implementation of the TCA, including establishing Dielette with the required technical status to make it a designated landing port for Guernsey vessels,’ they said.

‘We will ensure an update is provided to fishermen and the wider public as soon as there are developments in this regard.’

The Guernsey fisherman added that more definitely needed to be done.

‘I’ve been fishing for 34 years and travelling to France for 25, more is needed from them and that includes talking to us, the fishing industry, about it,’ he said.

‘I’ve had two attempts at the paperwork so far and got it wrong. There are some fishermen who are not computer literate and will never be able to do what is needed without help. One I know of did the paperwork and was refused because he missed his designated time slot. Minor errors, it’s costing people time and money and is unfair and infuriating.

‘I just hope it changes because what we need to fish in French waters is far more than what they need to do so in ours.’

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