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Faced with the United Kingdom, the « warning shot » of French fishermen

The port of Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine) blocked between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., access to ferries prevented at Calais (Pas-de-Calais) between 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., Eurotunnel locked from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the port of Ouistreham (Calvados) paralyzed at 2 p.m.: this Friday, French professional fishermen have decided to mobilize in the face of « The provocative, contemptuous and humiliating attitude of the United Kingdom towards them », explains Gérard Romiti, president of the National Committee for Maritime Fisheries and Marine Breeding (CNPMEM).

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French fishermen have been waiting for eleven months for the British government to issue them with nearly 237 fishing licenses to access British waters. « We only ask for the respect of the agreement concluded on December 24, 2020 within the framework of Brexit », recalls Gérard Romiti. About a quarter of French catches by volume come from British fish-bearing waters. « The discussions have broken down and we cannot hear Europe, regrets Dimitri Rogoff, president of the Normandy regional fisheries and marine farming committee. It is up to the European Union to impose its rhythm on the United Kingdom. It must regain the confidence of fishermen. « 

An ultimatum

The European Union and the British government are, in fact, in the sights of French fishermen. « If the French government has been mobilized by our side from the start, the commitment of the European Commission raises questions », recognizes Gérard Romiti. On Wednesday evening, after a discussion between the European Commissioner for the Environment and Fisheries and the British Minister for the Environment, the European Commission issued an ultimatum to Boris Johnson: the United Kingdom must settle the dispute which opposes it to France around fishing licenses before December 10.

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The United Kingdom has been refusing the establishment of a clear methodology for granting fishing licenses for several months. The British introduced new conditions absent from the trade and cooperation agreement. For example, they require proof by geolocation. But this requested evidence is difficult to provide for most small vessels (less than twelve meters), often without geolocation systems. The United Kingdom is also requesting additional data for vessels less than 12 meters in the waters of Jersey, Guernsey and within 6-12 miles.

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