French fishermen to blockade ports and Channel Tunnel

26 November 2021, 08:08

French fishermen are demanding more access to UK waters post-Brexit.
French fishermen are demanding more access to UK waters post-Brexit. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

French fisherman are expected to blockade the Channel Tunnel and major ports today in a protest over post-Brexit fishing rights.

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The fishermen are expected to stage protests at the ports of Calais, Saint-Malo and Ouistreham.

A statement released by the fishermen's national committee said action will take place over several hours and will be "symbolic and non-violent".

They added the protests would be a "warning shot" which could lead to further action if their demands are not met.

Any protests are expected to have a major impact on cross-Channel trade and Downing Street have urged French authorities to prevent disruption.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "We are disappointed by threats of protest activity.

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"It is obviously a matter for the French to ensure that there are no illegal actions and that trade is not affected but we continue to monitor the situation closely."

The protesters are angry about a lack of fishing licences to fish in UK waters under the terms of the UK's post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU.

The fisherman's committee chairman Gerard Romiti said the attitude of the British authorities was "provocative" and "humiliating".

"We don't want handouts, we just want our licences back," he said, according to French media reports.

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"The UK must respect the post-Brexit deal. Too many fishermen are still in the dark."

The European Commission has put pressure on the UK to solve the row by December 10.

Downing Street said almost 1,700 licences have been issued to EU boats. The dispute centres on small fishing crafts, which are only eligible for licences if they can demonstrate a history of fishing in UK waters.

Last month, France claimed dozens of vessels had had their applications denied, a claim Downing Street refuted.

Last May protesters blockaded the port of St Helier in Jersey.