Furious French fishermen demand ‘urgent’ access to UK waters | London Business News
Last week, French fishermen blocked British trucks bringing British fish to Boulogne-sur-Mer, France’s busiest fishing center.
France calls on the UK government for swift implementation of the post-Brexit trade deal to allow French fishermen mutual access to fishing in UK waters.
The French argue that the Brexit deal is a sham by allowing fishermen access to UK waters since the UK left the EU.
They say only 22 licenses have been granted to French ships out of 120 that seek authorization from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) between six and 12 miles from the UK coast.
Minister for Europe Clement Beaune and Minister for the Maritimes Annick Girardin declared in a joint declaration: “We are acting in the spirit of European solidarity and cooperation with the United Kingdom, but the urgency demands an acceleration of our collective efforts.
“Full licensing of UK waters and swift resolution of critical issues, including the use of forward bases, must be resolved as soon as possible.”
French ministers are also asking that their fishermen be allowed to unload their catches in British ports.
Olivier Lepretre, head of the Boulogne regional fisheries committee said: “It is not enough to have a nice letter, you have to act”.
“At the moment, it is impossible to unload fish in English ports.”
Defra disputed the French claims and a spokesperson said: “The UK maintains a consistent and evidence-based approach to licensing EU vessels using 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 protest action were raised directly with the French authorities.”
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “The fisheries sector is one of the most affected by Brexit, forcing fishermen and downstream market operators in the Member States concerned to reorganize and s ‘adapt to the new situation. “
French fisheries chiefs have also warned that the ‘disastrous’ Brexit deal means fishermen will not be able to recruit people to develop the industry in the future.
Andrew Locker, president of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organizations, told the Telegraph: “There is a viable industry out there.
“99.9% of fishermen voted for Brexit because they thought they were going to rule their own waters.
“But due to the disastrous deal we made, we are never going to rebuild our coastal communities and make a viable appeal for the recruitment of young people.”