Fri, 21 Jan 2022

Angry French fishermen demand right to fish in UK waters

Robert Besser
28 Nov 2021, 16:41 GMT+10

PARIS, France: In protesting the UK's refusal to grant more licenses to fish in British waters, French fishermen said this week that they are planning to block British vessels from entering French ports.

For many months, France and the UK have argued over how many licenses should be granted to French fishermen, as part of a post-Brexit deal.

France is accusing the UK of not issuing enough permits, while the UK has said it is respecting the earlier agreement.

However, fishermen have decided to take direct action, as the talks are stuttering, said Olivier Lepretre, president of the organization representing fishermen's interests in northern France.

"Action is imminent," Lepretre added, without providing any details.

But fisherman Stephane Fournier told Reuters that his colleagues across the region had been informed that action would take place late in the week.

"Britain wants to get access to the European market? They should give us the licenses. If not, we will cut their access," he added, noting potential action was not intended to harm British fishermen, "who are simple fishers like us," he said, as reported by Reuters.

French fishermen have previously taken direct action, including blocking trucks that were carrying fish from British waters to processing centers in France.

In May, the British Royal Navy sent two patrol boats when French boats blockaded Saint Helier's harbor on the island of Jersey.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters, "We will provide additional licenses when the requisite evidence is supplied, we are not negotiating over changing that approach."

Last week, French maritime minister Annick Girardin was seen by many fishermen as admitting defeat after she proposed a compensation package worth $68 million for fishermen who do not receive licenses.

Since then, President Emmanuel Macron has said France "will not yield" to the British.

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