Brussels (Brussels Morning) French trawler crews have announced blockades of cargo terminals and ports for today with the aim of disrupting UK supply chains.
The move is part of their push for fishing rights in British waters, with the fishermen hoping to empty supermarket shelves in the UK, according to RFI reporting.
The fishermen announced plans to target the Channel Tunnel freight terminal and ports in Calais, Ouistreham and Saint-Malo.
Gérard Romiti, head of the French National Fisheries Committee (CNPMEM), stressed that “the patience of professionals has limits”, noting that “we’ve been waiting for 11 months now with our mouths open.”
According to the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which came into effect after the Brexit transition period, French boats can continue to fish in British waters six to 12 miles off British shores and the Channel Island of Jersey if they can prove that they were fishing there before December 2020.
Some applications not processed
Roughly 960 French boats have obtained their licences since the start of the year, with French authorities stressing that more than 150 applications still need to be processed.
UK regulators pointed out that they approved 98% of applications and added that checks are underway in the remaining cases.
Friction between the UK and France has been rising, with French patrols briefly seizing a British fishing boat in French waters in October because it did not have the right papers.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the situation on the fringes of the G20 summit in Rome at the end of October.
Annick Girardin, French Minister of the Sea, proposed last week to set aside 60 million euro for those fishermen whose applications will be rejected, a move seen as an admission of defeat.
Girardin stressed on Tuesday that she was looking for a way out of the deadlock and appealed “to the union between the professionals of the fishing industry and the French government so that we can fight together in order to obtain the missing licences.”
This week, the UK stressed that its position on the matter has not changed, with a spokesperson for Johnson noting “we will provide additional licences when the requisite evidence is supplied… we’re not negotiating over changing that approach.”