Meanwhile former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ditch his “timid” approach and get a grip of the situation – while suggesting French President Emmanuel Macron’s frequent complaints were a calculated attempt to “bash the British” in order to make domestic political capital. Pro-Brexit think tank Facts4EU analysed official figures published by the UK Government which showed nearly 1,700 EU vessels have been granted licences to enter British waters (within 200 nautical miles).
Of these, 117 are able to sail up to six miles from the United Kingdom’s shores.
Facts4EU’s analysis indicates 44 percent of the new licences issued in the last nine months – a total of 738 – were granted to French ships.
Just 35 small vessels from the entire EU27 fleet have been refused licences – and only because they have so far been unable to prove they were fishing within the 6-12 nautical miles of territorial waters off the British coast prior to Brexit.
If they can do so, they will also be granted licences.
Mr Habib told Express.co.uk of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed by Mr Johnson in December: “On paper the deal was self-evidently bad.
“It did not come close to fulfilling the fishing promises made by the Prime Minister and Lord Frost.
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Mr Habib added: “We also know they are not sticking to their Total Allowable Catch limits, generous as these already are. None of their boats are ever inspected.
“They come into our waters and take what they like. So timid are we that we let them get away with it.”
As for Mr Johnson, Mr Habib said: “The Prime Minister makes a song and dance about the importance of promoting renewable resources.
“Well, our fish is our biggest naturally renewable food source.”
There was a “parallel between the government’s inability to get grips with illegal fishing in its waters and its inability to get to grips with migrants crossing the English Channel from France, he claimed.
Mr Habib warned: “The French are dumping on the UK.
“It is high time the British government took a firm line with the French and, with it, proper control of our borders and our fish!”
A UK Government spokesman said: “The government has this year issued a large number of licences to EU vessels seeking to fish in our exclusive economic zone (12-200 nautical mile zone) and our territorial sea (6-12 nautical mile zone).
“Our approach has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).”
The spokesman added: “As regards the 6-12nm zone, as set out in the TCA, EU vessels must provide evidence of a track record of fishing activity in those waters.
“We have been considering applications for vessels of under 12 m 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.
“We continue to work with the Commission and the French authorities and will consider any further evidence provided to support the remaining licence applications.”