Independence ‘final nail in the coffin’ for fishing says fisherman
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The threat came after union bosses launched a blockade of UK exports to the Continent amid growing anger over being shut out of our coastal waters. Organisers said more than 100 boats will take part in the action that is planned to continue into tomorrow. French trawlermen are reeling from losing their generous access to UK fishing grounds after Brexit, which they say has sparked an “economic disaster”.
Campaign groups from Hauts-de-France accused Boris Johnson’s Government of being “highly contemptuous since they respect neither agreements nor commitments” of the UK-EU fisheries pact.
They claim just 22 out of 120 vessels operating from Boulogne-sur-mer have been granted access to British waters – leaving 80 percent of their fleet out of operation.
Bruno Dachicourt, of the French National Union of Fishermen, blasted: “We’re supposed to be partners but they don’t respect us.
“We need to show them that if we are struggling, they will be too. The lack of access to UK waters is fatal.”
French fishermen have vowed to make UK industry feel pinch of their Brexit losses (Image: GETTY)
French fishermen are known for their often violent protests (Image: GETTY)
Trawlerman Laurent Merlin fumed: “Of course, I’ll go and protest. The English have to understand: they are doing what they want and we have nothing left.”
French boat owners claim just 22 out of 120 vessels operating from Boulogne-sur-mer have been granted access to British waters – leaving 80 percent of their fleet out of operation.
The port was said to be highly dependent on access to British fishing grounds.
Olivier Lepretre, president of the regional fisheries committee, said: “From January to April, I’ve lost 70 percent of my turnover.
Boris Johnson’s aides have urged Emmanuel Macron to intervene and stop the action (Image: GETTY)
“I’ve stopped my boat, I get zero fish every time! It’s 16 hours of work to lose money. I am completely demoralised and to speak honestly, we are all in trouble.”
He claimed that northern France’s fishing industry is heading for “extinction” unless they are allowed to operate more off Britain’s coast.
British officials have urged Emmanuel Macron to intervene and stop unruly French fishermen from triggering a new Cod Wars.
Ministers have previously been warned that French vessels could blockade cross-Channel trade in response to being locked out of our fishing grounds after Brexit.
Brexit history in Express front pages (Image: EXPRESS)
In summer 2018, there were violent skirmishes between French and British boats as they tussled scallop fishing zones.
Government officials have disputed the claims by French trawlermen that they had been locked out of UK waters after Brexit.
A Defra spokeswoman 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.
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“Our concerns regarding the planned protest action have been raised directly with the French authorities.”
Figures published on a Government website show that the UK has issued licences to 87 French vessels that have applied and 40 more are waiting for approval.
Under the post-Brexit deal, No10 will have full control over who fishes in our waters after June 2026.
Until then, Brussels agreed to hand back 25 percent of the fish it catches off Britain’s coast, to be phased in over the five-and-a-half-year transition period.