national day of action of French fishermen to protest against licenses

The French fishermen put an end, on Friday, November 26, in the afternoon, to their actions to block ports and the Channel tunnel, carried out within the framework of a mobilization day on the Canal coast, aimed at ensuring the settlement of the post-Brexit fishing. disputes with London. It began in the morning with a blockade of the ports of Saint-Malo and after Calais, the mobilization ended with the lifting of the blockades that affected the port of Ouistreham and the access of freight trucks to the loading terminal of the Channel Tunnel. de la Mancha.

The dozens of trucks and cars that blocked the entry and exit of heavy vehicles in front of the Channel Tunnel left, as planned, around 4 pm Their action, which lasted two hours, caused a large traffic jam of more of a hundred trucks. For “Soak up the traffic” and “Decongest the public road”Additional train departures have been scheduled after 4pm, according to a Eurotunnel spokesperson.

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At Ouistreham, several trawlers also prevented a ferry from leaving the harbor in the early afternoon, while some 40 fishermen demonstrated ashore by throwing smoke bombs. Heavy vehicles were also blocked at the entrance to the ferry terminal parking lot. The initiative, symbolic in ports, was more disruptive with respect to the Channel Tunnel, through which 25% of trade between the United Kingdom and Europe passes.

Hours earlier, six fishing boats from Boulogne-sur-Mer had deployed shortly after noon to blockade the port of Calais. “We want to get our licenses back”, you could read on a banner displayed on a trawler. Is about “Put pressure on the British government”stressed before embarking the chairman of the Hauts-de-France fisheries committee, Olivier Leprêtre. He notably denounced the “Overexploitation in French waters”, generated, according to him, by the British attitude, which amounts to 35 fishing licenses not issued in Hauts-de-France.

For the president of the port, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, this symbolic action should not have too great an impact. Fishermen commit to “Do not infringe the billing of others”he stressed, specifying that there would be no complaint.

French fishing boats block the entrance to the port of Saint-Malo on November 26, 2021.

“We want our rights to be respected”

In Saint-Malo, the blockade lasted about an hour, from 8 am to 9 am, around ten fishing boats participated in the operation, activating smoke bombs. Due to bad weather there was no ferry, but the French boats blocked a fishing boat coming from Jersey, in a friendly atmosphere.

“When Europe and the government do not carry out threats, after a while you are forced to take control, because otherwise you have the impression that you will not achieve anything. We are not warmongers, we want our rights to be respected, a deal has been made, the English deal is not being respected “said Pascal Leclerc, chairman of the Ille-et-Vilaine fisheries committee.

“We don’t want handouts, we just want our licenses back. The UK must comply with the post-Brexit deal. Too many fishermen are still left behind ”Gérard Romiti, president of the National Fisheries Committee, insisted on Thursday during a press conference.

“The tree that hides the forest”

London got the message and reacted on Thursday night, saying “disappointed” for these “Threats of protest” and urging France to “Ensure that illegal acts are not committed and that trade is not affected”.

For the president of the National Committee, “This licensing issue is the tree that hides the forest: its resolution will depend on long-term relations with the UK”. While questioning the robustness of the European engagement together with EU fishermen, Gérard Romiti welcomed “l’ultimate” released on Wednesday by the European Commission, which asked London to resolve this dispute by December 10.

Under the Brexit agreement signed in late 2020 between London and Brussels, European fishermen can continue to work in British waters as long as they can prove that they have fished there before. But the French and the British argue over the nature and scope of the supporting documents that need to be provided.

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In total, from 1it is January 2021, France obtained “More than 960 licenses” fishing in British waters and the Channel Islands, but Paris continues to request more than 150 authorizations.

On this hot topic, the tone has gone up several times. Last May, a French flotilla headed to Jersey for a blockade of a few hours. In the fall, Paris threatened London with “Retaliatory measures”, before temporarily abandoning it to give the negotiations in Brussels a chance.

French fishermen today feel comforted by the renewed support last Sunday of President Emmanuel Macron, who assured that he will fight to the end to defend their interests.

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The world with AFP

Vince Fernandez

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