Home Brexit Furious French fishermen demand ‘urgent’ access to British waters

Furious French fishermen demand ‘urgent’ access to British waters

by Mark Fitt Political Journalist
26th Apr 21 11:59 am

Last week French fishermen blocked British lorries who were bringing UK fish to Boulogne-sur-Mer, France’s busiest fishing hub.

France are calling on the British government for a quick implementation of the post-Brexit trade agreement to allow French fishermen mutual access to fishing in UK waters.

The French are arguing that the Brexit deal is a sham in allowing fishermen access to to British waters since the UK left the EU.

They are claiming that only 22 licences have been granted to French vessels out of 120 who are seeking permission from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) between six and 12 miles from the UK coastline.

Europe Minister Clement Beaune and Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said in a joint statement, “We’re acting within the spirit of European solidarity and cooperation with the UK, but the urgency demands an acceleration of our collective efforts.

“A full granting of access licenses for British waters, and a quick resolution of crucial questions including the use of forward bases, must be resolved as soon as possible.”

French Ministers are also demanding that their fishermen can be allowed to unload their catch at British ports.

Olivier Lepretre, head of the Boulogne regional fishing committee said, “It’s not enough to have a nice letter – we need action,”

“For now it’s impossible to unload fish at English ports.”

Defra disputed the French claims and a spokesman said, “The UK maintains a consistent, evidence-based approach to licensing EU vessels using information supplied by the European Commission.

“We do not recognise the figures that have been shared by the French fishing industry and consider this reaction to be unjustified.

“Our concerns regarding the protest action have been raised directly with the French authorities.”

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, “The fisheries sector is one of the most affected by Brexit, requiring fishermen and downstream market operators in affected member states to re-organise and adapt to the new situation.”

French fishing chiefs have also warned that the “disastrous” Brexit deal means that Fishermen will not be able to recruit people to grow the industry for the future.

Andrew Locker, chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations told the Telegraph, “There is a viable industry out there.

“99.9% of fishermen voted for Brexit because they thought they were going to govern their own waters.

“But because of the disastrous deal we have got, there is no way we are ever going to rebuild our coastal communities and put a viable call out for recruitment of young people.”

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