French fisherman supports retaliation over fishing row
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Footage shows dozens of fishermen driving vehicles to the main entrance of the Channel Tunnel in northern France, with many sounding their horns and lighting flares. Pictures show long queues of lorries forming at the major transport link between France and the UK.
Several other demonstrations have taken place today at the Channel ports of Calais, Saint-Malo and Ouistreham.
French fishermen have taken the drastic action following claims they have not been granted enough fishing licences to land in UK waters.
Olivier Lepretre, president of the regional fishing committee, said: “The British have access to the European market, while we do not have access to British waters.
“This is not normal, the British government must respect the agreement.
“This is a symbolic action but if it continues we will show more teeth.”
French officials argue it is still short of around 150 permits to allow fishermen to fish in the UK’s 6-12 mile zone off the British coast.
The UK Government has said around 1,700 licences have been issued since the start of the year and further applications will be processed in line with the Brexit deal.
The blockade around the Eurotunnel is expected to continue until at least 4pm local time.
Earlier in the day, French fishermen also prevented a small British cargo, the Normandy Trader, from docking in the Brittany port of Saint-Malo.
The Eurotunnel route from Calais to Dover is just 23 miles and before the pandemic 1.8 million trucks passed through each year.
Gerard Romiti, head of the national fisheries committee, said he hoped the demonstration would serve as a “warning shot” to the UK.
He said: We don’t want handouts, we just want our licences back.
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“The UK must abide by the post-Brexit deal. Too many fishermen are still in the dark. We have been waiting with bated breath for 11 months.
“The patience of professionals has limits. We hope this warning shot will be heard.”
A Downing Street spokesman said the Government was “disappointed by threats of protest activity” after details of the demonstration emerged on Thursday evening.
He added: “It will be a matter for the French to ensure that there are no illegal actions and that trade is not affected. We continue to monitor the situation closely.”
The UK left the EU Common Fisheries Policy at the start of the year and the Trade and Co-Operation Agreement (TCA) reduces EU fishing quotas by 25 percent over the next five years.
EU vessels must now provide historical evidence of fishing in UK waters if they are to receive a licence.
A Number 10 spokesman added: “We continue to abide by the TCA and work with fishermen if they have any further evidence they wish to submit as part of their application.
“We will continue to give licences where that evidence can be met.”
The row over fishing also comes amid already strained relations between London and Paris.
The two nations have been engaged in a blame game following the tragic death of 27 people in the English Channel on Wednesday.
French officials have since cancelled an invitation to Home Secretary Priti Patel to attend a meeting on the issue in Calais at the weekend.
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