French fishermen issue Brexit deal ultimatum – fury erupts over UK’s ‘broken promises’

Fishing boom to be 'huge' for UK says expert

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In the latest attack on the UK in a bitter fishing row, fishermen across Northern France also claim they are being prevented from operating in British waters due to the UK’s strict standards in obtaining licences. Several fishermen began a protest movement last week by blockading trucks bringing fish from Britain to France, claiming that only 22 boats out of 120 from the Boulogne-sur-Mer port had obtained a licence for British waters.


However, the UK Government has contested the French industry’s claims, saying last Friday that 87 French boats had received licences for fishing within six to 12 nautical miles from the UK coast.

Dimitri Rogoff, president of the Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee, claimed the UK Government “does a lot of checks” when it came to applying for licences and stressed: “It’s always difficult to negotiate with them.

“The British want to preserve their resource and will not allow French vessels to come and fish in the coastal zone of 6-12 miles on their own coasts where fish are in abundance.

“The arm wrestling orchestrated by the UK Government shows bad faith and shows the UK does not keep any of its promises”.

France Europe Minister Clément Beaune also promised fishing chiefs during a visit to Boulogne-sur-Mer this week they will “fight until we obtain the last necessary licence”.

Mr Beaune’s colleague, Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin, also pointed to UK Government requirements for vessels to have a monitoring system to prove they have been in UK waters.

Ms Giardin claimed it was much more complicated for boats of less than 12 metres to obtain a licence because a monitoring system was not compulsory.

She added: “There remains the only problem with boats under 12 meters, which cannot demonstrate their precedence in British waters as required by the United Kingdom.

“These UK demands are not in the deal, and are therefore unacceptable for France.”

The visit by French ministers comes as reported yesterday that Mr Beaune threatened the UK with sanctions on financial access to the EU if the UK doesn’t settle issues on fishing.

Fishing rights were one of the most complicated questions to negotiate in the Brexit deal agreed between Britain and the European Union for the UK’s full departure from the bloc on January 1.

Britain made fishing rights a key issue in the negotiations, with control over access to its waters seen as a sign of British sovereignty.

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The post-Brexit agreement provides for a transition period until the summer of 2026 when European fishermen will forgo 25 percent of the catches in British waters.

The agreement provides for an annual renegotiation at the end of this period.

The British fishing sector has also complained about red tape preventing the export of catches to the European continent.

In January, to protest delays to shipments, British exporters drove lorries to central London in a sign of tensions with the UK government of Boris Johnson.

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