Flemish academic undermines Flemish fishers' ‘ancient rights’ to fish in English waters

In recognition of the warm welcome Charles II of England received in Flanders during his exile, once he became king he issued a charter granting fifty Bruges fishers the right to fish in English waters in perpetuity. This right could come in handy now that the United Kingdom is reclaiming control of its national waters as a result of Brexit.  One retired Flemish academic has now found it fit to pour cold water on chances the Flemish authorities will be able to enforce this treaty today.

Eddy Somers, an emeritus professor of maritime law at Ghent University, went on Flemish radio to voice his doubts about the validity of any claim based on the 1666 charter. He insists that the charter cannot be accepted as a treaty under the stipulations of the 1969 Treaty of Vienna, which regulates the conditions international treaties have to meet in order to be valid. He also claims the charter is on conflict with the UN Maritime Law Convention dating from 1982 that guarantees member states an exclusive economic zone in all waters within 200 miles from their coastline.

Prof Somers also has his doubts about the validity of King Charles’s charter in our day and urges the Flemish government to put its energy into talks with the UK within the framework of the EU that is charged with responsibility for fisheries.


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