French fishermen to decide on Port of Calais freight blockade as dispute rumbles on

Wed 24 Nov 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

calais port

French fishermen are set to block freight headed for Britain at the Port of Calais and other ports due to a dispute over fishing licences.

Britain has licensed 961 French boats to continue fishing in British waters, but around 150 have been denied as they have not been able to prove, to the UK’s satisfaction, that they have fished there previously.

Economic target

The Guardian reports that fishermen would decide what action to take in the coming days, with Olivier Leprêtre, the president of the organisation that represents northern France’s fishermen, saying a blockade is likely. Action could start on Friday or Monday if agreed to.

“We are aiming more to target exports, because we don’t want to harm the French economy,” he told a meeting of fishermen said. “We want to affect the UK’s economy. We will do this properly – and we will do it.”

Options on table

France has said that it will take its own measures if the EU fails to intervene in the dispute, reports the Independent.

France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune said: “We still have all options on the table, including these measures. We will prefer to have it on the EU level but if nothing happens at the EU level we will take French measures. But I don’t want to go into that.”

A question of trust

Beaune said the dispute called UK trustworthiness into question and it was in its “best interest” to settle.

“If we want to work together ... on defence, and security, and foreign policy, and crises like the one we see in Belarus, or maybe in Ukraine, in the Balkans, which is a big concern for the UK as well, you need trust and to be true to your words,” he said.

Protect trade

A UK government spokesperson told the Express that Britain’s approach to fishing licences was in line with its commitments in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

“We are disappointed by threats of protest activity, and we look to the French authorities to ensure that there are no illegal actions and trade is not affected,” they said.

Disagreement

French fishermen have accused Britain of failing to implement the TCA which allows European trawlers that had worked in British waters before Brexit to continue doing so, reports the Telegraph.

Benoit Firmin, of the regional fisheries committee in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, said: “The fact is that we have respected our end of the [Brexit] deal, but the UK has not respected its end. We are sorry to see that it’s played out like this.”