Britain said Tuesday it will grant 12 out of 47 applications for new licences to small boats from the European Union to fish in its territorial waters, enraging France.
London says it has pursued a “reasonable approach”, issuing nearly 1,700 licences to EU boats to fish in Britain’s exclusive economic zone, which is defined as being 12-200 miles from the coast.
A total of 117 have been issued for the 6-12 mile zone.
“As regards the 6-12 mile zone…, EU vessels must provide evidence of a track record of fishing activity in those waters,” the government said in a statement Tuesday.
“We have been considering applications for vessels of under 12 metres in length to fish in this zone and, on the basis of the evidence available, we are able to grant licences for 12 of the 47 applications made.”
But French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin called it “a new British refusal to apply the conditions of the Brexit accord.
“French fishing must not be held hostage by the British for political ends,” she added.
The other applications were rejected because of insufficient evidence that the boats fished in the area between 2012 and 2016, as stipulated in the post-Brexit agreement reached last year between London and Brussels.
“We continue to work with the Commission and the French authorities and will consider any further evidence provided to support the remaining licence applications,” it added.
London insisted that its “approach has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)”.
The list of successful vessels is due to be published on Wednesday.
France says that 87 applications have been made, with the discrepancy revolving around licences for vessels that replaced older boats that previously fished in the area.