Big line on Brexit as French fishermen blockade port TONIGHT in protest over loss of access to UK waters
FRENCH fishermen tonight will launch a blockade of British exports to the continent in protest of the loss of access to our waters – sparking another major conflict over Brexit.
Angry trawlers are preparing to besiege the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, near Calais, and accused No.10 of having called them “contempt” by closing their boats.
They claim that only 22 boats, out of a total of 120 in the region, have been allowed to enter our 6 to 12 mile coastal zone since January 1.
But UK official figures actually show the UK has licensed 87 vessels, with 40 more awaiting the green light.
In total, some 730 French trawlers are currently authorized to land catches in all UK waters.
Boris Johnson called on Emmanuel Macron to intervene on the “unwarranted” blockade, which will hit British seafood exports.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘The UK maintains a consistent and evidence-based approach to licensing EU vessels using the information provided by the European Commission.
“We do not recognize the figures shared by the French fishing industry and consider this reaction unjustified.
“Our concerns about the planned protest action have been raised directly with the French authorities.”
British officials will closely follow the protest and its impact on British companies trying to land seafood in Boulogne.
During the protest, trawlers are expected to park their vessels across the entrance to the port, meaning British ships cannot enter.
British and French fishing boats have been involved in skirmishes in the past, including clashes in the 2018 Scallop War.
In a fiery statement, the Hauts-de-France Fishermen campaign group said it was acting to end an “economic and environmental catastrophe”.
He said: “There is overexploitation in the French zone, too many ships not being able to venture on the English side as before.
“The attitude of the British government is very contemptuous because it does not respect the agreements or the commitments.
“The free trade agreement is respected, on the other hand access to water is not what is deplorable.
“The fishermen of Hauts-de-France have shown extreme patience. But after being more than accommodating, they sound the alarm bells to draw attention to an economic disaster in the industry.”
The demonstration against No. 10 will take place this evening and tomorrow evening, according to activists.
They declared that it would be a question “above all of denouncing the arm wrestling orchestrated by HMG which shows bad faith, does not keep any of its promises, and whose incompetence and the lack of preparation also affect the British professionals who are struggling to export “.
The group added: “This accumulation of problems is suffocating and it condemns not only the fishing industry but also the professionals of the aerial fishing sector in Hauts-de-France.”
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Fishing has been one of the hardest-contested parts of the Brexit negotiations last year, with talks going all the way.
As part of the deal, Britain will regain full control of EU vessels that may enter our waters from mid-2025.
There will be a transition period of five and a half years, during which Brussels will gradually return a quarter of its current catch to British vessels.