French fishermen threaten to block Channel Tunnel, ports in protest over fishing licenses

Updated: November 26th, 2021 06:05 PM IST

🔴French fishermen are blockading the Channel Tunnel and major ports on Friday in a protest over post-Brexit fishing rights

French fishermen threaten to block Channel Tunnel, ports in protest over fishing licenses

French fishermen will block ferry traffic into three Channel ports and the movement of goods through the rail tunnel between France and the UK  in protest over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Describing the action as a "warning shot", French national fisheries committee (CNPMEM) chairman Gerard Romiti said on Friday that ferry traffic would be blocked at the ports of Saint-Malo, Ouistreham and Calais as well as freight traffic into the Channel Tunnel for several hours.

"We dont want handouts, we just want our licenses back. The UK must abide by the post-Brexit deal. Too many fishermen are still in the dark," said Romiti.

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "disappointed by threats of protest activity", adding that it was "a matter for the French to ensure that there are no illegal actions and that trade is not affected."

The action by French fishermen comes with relations between the two neighbours at their lowest point in decades and a day after a dinghy carrying migrants sank in the Channel, claiming 27 lives.

The months-long dispute between Britain and France over the number of licences for UK waters handed to French vessels remains unresolved and has threatened to turn into a full-scale trade war.

Britain has been struggling with major supply problems due to post-Brexit trade disruption and a lack of qualified truck drivers, resulting in fuel shortages and worries about shortages at Christmas.

Under a deal agreed by Britain and the EU late last year, European fishing vessels can continue to ply UK waters if they apply for new licences and can prove they operated there in the past.

But the issue is politically sensitive and has contributed to growing post-Brexit tensions between Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, whose relationship was strained again by Wednesdays migrant disaster in the Channel.

In late October, France threatened to ban British fishing boats from unloading their catches at French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections.

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