Brexit : Gone fishing?

> Volt France and Volt UK call on their governments to not drown their SMEs in ideologically motivated bureaucracy
> To easen bureaucratic burdens on fisheries, Volt France calls for the European small business act should be adopted in France

Paris, London, October 2021

We have all come to know fisheries as one of the most fiercely negotiated areas of the Brexit negotiations. And in spite of Brexit being ‘done’, the dispute between the UK and France over fishing access for French vessels are still ongoing, as the more painful realities of Britain's departure from the European Union are now being washed ashore on both sides of the channel.

Brexit is reviving tensions in our coastal communities 

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) stipulates that European vessels should be granted the appropriate licenses prior to resuming any fishing activity in British territorial waters. Jersey for example, a UK Crown Dependency 22km away from the coast of France is in charge of monitoring its maritime waters. It has initially issued only 41 of 344 requested permits and included several limitations in an effort to protect its maritime ecosystem from overfishing. By the end of September, some 130 permits had been given with numerous requests rejected because of insufficient proof of historical fishing activities. All along the French coast the situation is similar: whether it is fishermen in Boulogne-Sur-Mer or even on the neighbouring Guernsey island, the number of fishing permits granted is far below expectations often due to not providing sufficient historical data collectable up until the end of a grace period in April 2021.

Clearly the extent of what constituted a ‘documented proof of historic fishing activity’ was not sufficiently agreed upon or communicated. One can understand the frustration of Norman and Jersey fishermen, who have seen their applications travelling from Normandy to Brussels to London before reaching Jersey, only to be returned to them with a large red rejection stamp after having made a living by working within those coastal waters for decades.

Giving fisheries a bureaucratic break

Volt France and Volt UK call on all parties to work through the technical details and to  respect historic fishing rights along the French and UK maritime waters. Instead of escalating the dispute we call to support our respective fishing industries. This means ensuring information on documentation is readily available in French and English and identifying bottlenecks in transmitting these documents from the French coast across to Jersey. The government of Jersey already had provided French speaking staff, so there is willingness to move forward: Volt calls on our bureaucracies to do the same. This means validating that documentation is complete and allowing it to be tracked if it has to be sent through Brussels and London.

Brexit and leaving the common European market mean more bureaucracy and we need to ensure that our administrations do not exacerbate the situation for ideological reasons on the back of small businesses. Volt UK further calls on the British government to evaluate whether their implementation of the small business act and the status of Jersey as a Crown Dependency permit shortcutting or simplifying handling through the United Kingdom Single Issuing Authority (UKSIA). Volt France calls on the French government to adopt the 2008 European Small Business Act as other member states have done and likewise to not make bureaucracy an existential threat to our fisheries. 

Volt believes that public services should be a service and not a burden. We depend on our businesses to provide jobs and contribute to financing our governments who in turn should ensure these businesses can thrive and help navigate bureaucracy rather than drowning in its complexity.


  • Rosie Duffield, MP pour Canterbury
  • Anthony Mangnall, MP pour Totnes
  • Jean-Pierre Pont, Deputy of the 5th district of the Pas-de-Calais department Department
  • Franck Dhersin - 8e vice-président en charge des mobilités, des infrastructures de transport et des ports de la région Hauts-de-France
  • Frédéric Cuvillier - Mayor of Boulogne-sur-Mer
  • Thierry Benoit - Deputy of the 6th district of the Ille-et-Vilaine department
  • Daniel Cueff - Vice-président en charge de Mer et littoral de la région Bretagne
  • Gille Lurton - Mayor of Saint-Malo

Contact Volt UK

Alex Haida - Co-President, Volt UK
Mail :

About Volt UK

Volt is the UK branch of the pan-european political movement Volt Europa, founded in 2917 and today present in all European countries, including Switzerland and the UK. In 2019, Volt won half a million votes in the European elections and a first seat in the European Parliament. In 2021, Volt won three seats in the Dutch national assembly. With now almost 80 elected officials on national, regional and local level in Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and Portugal, Volt is working across the continent to find solutions for the great challenges of our time - from climate change, social equality and a sustainable economic model to creating a federal, democratic and united Europe. 

More Information