French fishermen block ports in conflict with UK
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French fishing crews on Friday blocked French ports and ferry traffic across the Channel to disrupt the flow of goods to the UK in a dispute over post-Brexit fishing licenses
CALAIS, France – French fishing crews blocked French ports and ferry traffic across the Channel on Friday to disrupt the flow of goods to the UK, amid a dispute over fishing licenses post-Brexit.
It is the latest point of tension between neighboring countries, which also blame themselves for not doing enough to prevent the deaths of at least 27 migrants whose boat sank Wednesday off Calais, in the rough waters of the busiest sea route in the world.
French fishermen are angry with the British government for not granting more licenses to fish in British waters – and angry with their own government for not doing more to defend them.
The fishing industry is economically small but symbolically important to Britain and France.
Friday’s blockades are “a wake-up call,” Olivier Lepretre, president of the regional fisheries committee in Calais, told reporters.
“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.
Teams of fishermen blocked access to the port of Saint-Malo from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., but this blockage, now over, has passed the baton to Calais and Ouistreham, where the dispute continues. Meanwhile, protesters are preparing Friday afternoon to block access to the Channel Tunnel freight terminal, the highway connecting France to Britain. In the port of Calais, a ferry blockade began at noon, stopping the ferries that provide links with the United Kingdom Five fishing boats from the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer have blocked access to the port of Calais, in a short but hard-hitting 90-minute operation.
“It is a symbolic action but if it continues, we will show more teeth,” Lepretre added, in quotes given to French media.
The fishermen are protesting to “respond to the mocking and humiliating attitude of the English,” Gérard Romiti, president of the French fishing committee, told reporters.
“We don’t want freebies, we just want our licenses back. The UK must abide by the post-Brexit deal. Too many fishermen are still on the sidelines, ”he added.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was “disappointed with the threats of protest activity”.
Before Brexit, French fishermen could fish deep in British waters. Now they have to get a special license from the UK authorities to fish in certain areas. Most French boats have received special licenses. Now, the dispute boils down to a few dozen French licenses that have not been granted by the United Kingdom
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