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Montevideo, December 2nd 2020 - 05:30 UTC

 

 

Belgium dusts off 1666 charter issued by King Charles II to support its fishing rights in British waters

Friday, October 23rd 2020 - 07:24 UTC
Full article 2 comments
While today Belgian boats no longer sail from Bruges but from nearby Zeebrugge, the Privilege document is still valid, says Hilde Crevits, Flanders economy minister While today Belgian boats no longer sail from Bruges but from nearby Zeebrugge, the Privilege document is still valid, says Hilde Crevits, Flanders economy minister

Belgium may resort to a 17th-century charter granted by a British king to retain fishing rights in Britain’s coastal waters if London and the European Union fail to agree on a trade deal by the end of this year.

With just over two months until Britain ends its transition period out of the EU, Belgium will lose access to much of the area it fishes in the North Sea if there is no deal.

However, a document in Latin issued to Flanders in July 1666 by Britain’s King Charles II gives 50 Flemish fishing boats access to British waters for perpetuity.

“Knowing how Britain is attached to old habits and old laws, it may have a chance,” said Jan d’Hondt, the head archivist in the port city of Bruges, as he showed the large, yellowing paper document.

Charles II signed the document as a gesture to the city that gave him refuge after his father was beheaded during England’s Civil War in 1649, granting the citizens of Bruges, or “Civitas Brugensis”, the right to use 50 fishing boats in British waters.

While today Belgian boats no longer sail from Bruges but from nearby Zeebrugge, the document known as the Privilege is still valid, according to Hilde Crevits, economy minister of the Belgian region of Flanders.

“More than half of our fishing income comes from fish caught in British waters. So if we lose access to that British water or if our quotas go too far down, it could be the death knell for our fisheries,” Crevits said.

“As a consequence, if you have a very old document... where the king says you have the eternal right to sail with 50 boats in those coastal waters, yes then we will use that if necessary,” she said.

Britain and the EU resumed their talks on Thursday on a post-Brexit trade deal, with fisheries among several sensitive issues still blocking the way to an agreement.

Top Comments

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  • Capt Rockhopper

    And if the current Monarch says no, what are they going to do about it?

    Oct 23rd, 2020 - 04:45 pm 0
  • Pugol-H

    Unfortunately for the Cloggy Froggys, these ancient agreements and historical rights don’t work in modern international law.

    Under modern international law the “coastal state” is solely responsible for the setting of TACs and quotas. So if they can find a court that will hear the case and it rules in their favour, it can’t give them any quota.

    They may have the right to go there, but hang so much as a fishing line over the side and they’re nicked, BIG fine, thank you.

    Oct 23rd, 2020 - 04:46 pm 0
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