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Why Are the UK and France Fighting Over Fishing?

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France has detained a British scallop trawler in the port of Le Havre and fined another UK fishing vessel.

The latest post-Brexit row over fishing waters has once again revived a French threat to British energy supplies.

And the UK has accused France of moving towards a breach of international law and promised an “appropriate and calibrated response”.

Sky News looks at what’s sparked the latest tensions in the Channel and how the row might escalate.

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The scallop vessel named Cornelis was boarded by French authorities

What’s happened?

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A scallop vessel named Cornelis, owned by Macduff Shellfish, was boarded by French authorities on Thursday and ordered into the port of Le Havre, the company said.

Macduff said its vessel was “legally fishing for scallop in French waters” and claimed it was being used as “another pawn in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France” over the implementation of post-Brexit fishing agreements.

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The French sea ministry said in a statement that it had fined two British fishing vessels and “immobilised” one of them overnight.

They added that the fines resulted from new boat checks that are “part of the tightening of controls in the Channel, in the context of discussions on licences with the UK and the European Commission”.

Annick Girardin, France’s minister of the sea, said that one vessel was fined “for refusing to let the check take place”, while the other vessel “didn’t have the right to fish in the zone because it didn’t have a licence”.

The UK government has insisted the detained vessel did have a licence issued, but suggested it may have subsequently been withdrawn from a list of licensed vessels for “unclear” reasons.

What are the post-Brexit agreements on fishing?

Under the terms of the Brexit trade deal, which came into force on 1 January, EU access to UK waters and UK access to EU waters is now managed through a licensing system for fishing vessels.

Known as the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the Brexit trade deal will also see UK fishing boats end up with a greater share of fish from UK waters, with part of the EU’s previous share being transferred during an “adjustment period” until 2026.

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Cornelis was ordered into the port of Le Havre, Pic: MarineTraffic.com

Previously, when it was a member of the EU, the UK was part of the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy, which gave all European fishing fleets equal access to EU waters.

What do the UK and France disagree on?

According to the French government, the UK has only issued half the fishing licences that France believes it “is entitled to”.

But Environment Secretary George Eustice has said the UK has licensed 98% of the EU vessels that applied for access to UK waters.

“Since 31 December last year, the UK has issued licences to fish in our exclusive economic zone to 1,673 EU vessels,” he told MPs.

“This includes 736 French vessels, and 121 vessels have been licensed to fish in the UK six to 12 nautical mile zone, of which 103 are French.”

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French ‘threats’ will be met by response

Conservative MP David Duguid, who is the prime minister’s fisheries envoy, suggested the dispute centred on French vessels not being able to provide the evidence required to obtain a licence.

He told Sky News: “I think there are many vessels on the French side who previously had access [to UK waters] but didn’t necessarily build the track record.

“Or at least they can’t provide the evidence of that track record which is required to obtain a licence.”

Ms Girardin disputed the UK’s claim, saying that only 90% (rather than 98%) of EU vessels who applied were granted UK licences.

“Obviously, the missing 10% are for the French,” she added.

What about Jersey and Guernsey?

To complicate matters, the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey are British Crown Dependencies and responsible for issuing their own licences to EU vessels to fish in their territorial waters.

The government of Jersey, an island that sits only 14 miles off the French coast, said the issuance of licences was a “complex, evidence-based process” that it was continuing to approach “with good faith”.

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There were concerns of a possible blockade of Jersey by French boats earlier this year

They said that “further progress” has this week been made “on the outstanding applications from French vessels for licences to fish in Jersey’s territorial waters”.

What has France threatened?

Ms Girardin has described the dispute as “not war” but “a fight”, adding: “The French fishermen have some rights, an agreement has been signed.

“We must have this agreement implemented, we have fishing rights, we must defend them and we defend them.”

The French minister said her country does not yet have “the number of licences we expect”, especially from Jersey.

And, as such, she warned of retaliatory measures being “progressively implemented” from next month.

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French Minister: ‘It is a fight’ with UK

Asked if France could revive its previous threat to cut off power to Jersey – which receives 95% of its electricity from France through undersea cables – Ms Girardin said it “wouldn’t be serious to say we cut the electricity”.

But she added that sanctions could include the raising of tariffs.

Other retaliatory measures being suggested by the French include:

o Banning British fishing vessels in some French ports
o Reinforcement of customs and hygiene controls
o Routine security checks on British vessels
o Reinforcement of controls on lorries to and from the UK

How did the UK respond?

Responding to the French threats, Mr Eustice said: “We believe these are disappointing and disproportionate and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner.

“The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement or wider international law and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.”

Could the Royal Navy be brought in again?

In May this year, in a previous episode of the post-Brexit fishing dispute, the UK deployed two Royal Navy vessels to Jersey amid concerns of a possible blockade of the island by French boats.

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HMS Tamar was sent to patrol Jersey’s waters in May

But Number 10 has said, as yet, there are “no plans” to once again send the Royal Navy to protect British vessels in the Channel.

Have there been fishing disputes before?

Prior to the UK’s membership of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, there had been what were known as the “Cod Wars” between Icelandic and British fishing vessels in the late 1950s to 1970s.

These violent clashes were sparked by Iceland asserting control over the seas surrounding the island.

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The ‘Cod Wars’ saw violent clashes between British and Icelandic vessels

The Royal Navy became involved by escorting British trawlers.

In what was dubbed the “Scallop Wars” in the summer of 2018, tensions erupted between French and British boats around the Baie de Seine waters.

What about the French election?

Our Europe correspondent Adam Parsons has suggested next April’s French presidential election could be a factor in the current fishing dispute.

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French President Emmanuel Macron is facing an election next April

“Emmanuel Macron is aware that, with a presidential election on the horizon, he wants to shore up his support in northern France, where fishing is a potent topic,” he said.

“He also thinks that picking a fight with Britain has political value. The AUKUS submarine deal infuriated Macron and, after years of Brexit wrangling, there is mistrust of Westminster politicians.

“Macron is keen to portray himself as the de facto political leader of the EU and, right now, having a row with Boris Johnson won’t do him any harm.”

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A Historic Night for Barbados and the Role of the Royal Family

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The crowds were strictly restricted due to the COVID pandemic, and despite the efforts and enthusiasm of the bands and dancers the atmosphere seemed muted in National Heroes Square, once known as Trafalgar Square.

But as the ceremonial events got under way the significance was striking, a historic night for Barbados and the role of the Royal Family.

There was a series of symbolic moments: the Prince of Wales closing almost 400 years of royal history inspecting one last military march past; the standard lowered for the final time; and the new president, Dame Sandra Mason, stepping forward to take her new role just seconds after the clock struck midnight.

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1:03

Rihanna ‘national hero’ of Barbados

Barbados had made that final step out on its own, now a republic.

In the distance you could hear the crowds clapping as the president entered the square.

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There were a few cheers for Prince Charles as his car swept past them, but the loudest cheer was for Barbados’s biggest star Rihanna, as she tried to make a subtle appearance during the middle of the proceedings.

And with the cheering and the fireworks lighting up the sky you could be led to believe this was a moment of celebration for all Barbadians.

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Yes, independence day always brings parties, but the move to a republic isn’t without controversy.

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‘Atrocity of slavery forever stains our history’

There was no referendum about it, and in the crowds it wasn’t difficult to find those who thought they should have had their say, others who don’t understand what this new status means for them, as well as those who for decades have fought to cut the colonial ties.

While it will remain a member of the Commonwealth, now it will be up to Prime Minister Mia Mottley to more forcefully take Barbados to the world stage, hammer home the need for greater support on the matters of COVID and the climate crisis.

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President Sandra Mason, singer Rihanna and Prince Charles during the transition ceremony

This is not a completely fresh slate, there are still matters around reparations and the legacy of the slave trade to deal with.

Prince Charles at least acknowledging the appalling ways hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans were treated, going some would say further formally in his comments than any other member of his family in the past.

He too reiterated that message that this is a new chapter for Barbados. And it was encouraging to see that at the helm a female prime minister and a female president are now helping to write that future.

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Rihanna Declared a ‘national Hero’ As Barbados Celebrates Becoming a Republic

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Barbadian singer and businesswoman Rihanna has been declared a national hero by the country’s prime minister.

The 33-year-old was awarded the honour by Mia Mottley during an event to celebrate the island nation becoming a republic.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you the designee for national hero for Barbados, ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty,” the PM said to a jubilant crowd in the capital, Bridgetown.

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The singer was awarded the honour as the Caribbean island celebrated becoming a republic

“May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your works, by your actions.”

Rihanna was born in Saint Michael and raised in Bridgetown, before moving to the United States after she was discovered by New York-based music producer Evan Rogers.

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She has since gone on to become one of the biggest artists in the world, as well as starring in movies including Battleship and Ocean’s 8, and launching her own fashion brand, Fenty, in 2018.

Since 2018, Rihanna has had the honorary title of Ambassador for Culture and Youth in Barbados.

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In 2008, former prime minister David Thompson declared 22 February “Rihanna Day” – and although it is not a bank holiday, Barbadians celebrate it every year.

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Prince Charles was invited to speak at the transition ceremony

The latest honour was awarded to the star from her homeland as it celebrated becoming a republic – 55 years after gaining independence from the UK.

In a message to the people of the Caribbean island, the Queen sent her “good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” and emphasised the importance of the “continuation of the friendship” with the UK as she ceased to be their monarch.

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Rihanna joined the ceremony in Bridgetown

Prince Charles was invited to speak at the transition ceremony formalising the move.

Speaking in front of a crowd in National Heroes Square in Bridgetown, once known as Trafalgar Square, he said: “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our histories, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

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There was singing and dancing during the celebrations

“Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.”

Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the island’s first-ever president.

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Source: news.sky.com

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Prince Charles Acknowledges ‘appalling’ History of Slavery As Barbados Becomes a Republic

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The Prince of Wales has formally acknowledged “the appalling atrocity of slavery” in the Caribbean, saying “it forever stains our history” at an event to mark Barbados becoming a republic.

Prince Charles was invited to speak at the transition ceremony formalising the Caribbean island’s decision to remove the Queen as its head of state.

Speaking in front of a crowd in National Heroes Square in Bridgetown, once known as Trafalgar Square, he said: “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our histories, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

“Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.”

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Prince Charles celebrated the UK’s relationship with Barbados in his speech

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Performers provide entertainment as part of the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony in Bridgetown

A 21-gun salute was fired just after midnight when the nation officially became a republic, marking a new chapter in the nation’s history.

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The prince, who described how “the creation of this republic offers a new beginning”, watched as the Queen’s standard was lowered for the final time.

He described how he felt “deeply touched” to be invited to the event, held on the nation’s 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, and spoke of his great personal respect for the people of Barbados.

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He added: “Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story, adding to the treasury of past achievement, collective enterprise and personal courage which already fill its pages.

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Members of the Barbados armed forces carry the presidential colours

A new chapter

“The creation of this republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum – a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled but which you have built.”

In a message to the people of the Caribbean island, the Queen sent her “good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” and emphasised the importance of the “continuation of the friendship” with the UK as she ceased to be their monarch.

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Rihanna ‘national hero’ of Barbados

Barbados’ decision to remove the Queen as head of state will be watched closely by other members of the Commonwealth, especially in the Caribbean region.

Prince Charles’ speech referenced the UK’s close relationship with Barbados and a continuing partnership between the two nations.

“As your constitutional status changes, it was important to me that I should join you to reaffirm those things which do not change,” Prince Charles said.

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Dame Sandra Mason is now president of Barbados

“For example, the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the United Kingdom as vital members of the Commonwealth; our common determination to defend the values we both cherish and to pursue the goals we share; and the myriad connections between the people of our countries – through which flow admiration and affection, co-operation and opportunity – strengthening and enriching us all.”

After a dazzling display of Barbadian dance and music, Sandra Mason was sworn in as Barbados’ first ever president.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the leader of Barbados’ republican movement, helped lead the ceremony.

Barbadian singer Rihanna also attended the event and was declared a national hero.

“May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your works, by your actions,” Ms Mottley told Rihanna, a reference to her 2012 chart-topping single Diamonds.

The transition ceremony was watched in-person by a large crowd, and broadcast online and on screens across the island.

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Source: news.sky.com

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