French fishermen blocked off the Normandy Trader boat at the port of Saint-Malo on Friday as they started a day of protests to mark their anger over the issue of post-Brexit fishing licenses.
Fishermen lit red flares as they launched their protest, which will be followed later on Friday by a planned blockade of other French fishermen by the Channel Tunnel and the port of Calais, in protest of Britain’s failure to issue more fishing licenses to them since Brexit .
The protests were adopted at a meeting on Thursday as a demonstration of what they said was Britain’s despicable and humiliating approach since Brexit.
Gérard Romiti, chairman of the National Sea Fisheries Committee, told reporters that all they wanted was to honor the trade and cooperation agreement that was sealed on Christmas Eve last year.
He described the demonstration as legitimate and said it was intended to prevent “British bad faith” from winning the fisheries conflict and other cases.
“We want the agreement signed on December 24, 2020, to be respected,” Romiti said. “We do not want distributions, we just want our licenses back. Britain must abide by the post-Brexit agreement. Too many fishermen are still in the dark.
“We have been waiting with bated breath for 11 months. The patience of professionals has limits. We hope this warning shot will be heard, ”he said, refusing to rule out further action in the future.
Romiti said the dispute should be seen in a broader context with Britain’s strained relations with the EU and France on a number of issues, including Northern Ireland and the human trafficking crisis in the English Channel.
“If the issue of licenses may seem smaller at European level to some, it’s part of a much bigger picture,” he said. “The long-term relationship with the UK depends on the solution to this problem.”
Saint Malo was to be blocked between 8.00 and 9.00 with further protests in the port of Calais between kl. 12.00 and 13.30, while the A16 access road to Eurotunnel was to be blocked between kl. 14.00 and 18.00. There will also be similar actions in Ouistreham on Friday afternoon.
The dispute erupted after Britain left the EU, and Paris said London should have issued more French boats with licenses to fish in British territorial waters. Britain claims to respect post-Brexit agreements.
Tensions flared up in October when France briefly seized a British fishing boat in its waters, and both countries sent maritime vessels to waters off the Channel Island of Jersey earlier this year.
The dispute between France and Britain is centered on the issuance of licenses to fish in territorial waters six to 12 nautical miles off the coast of Britain, as well as in the seas off the coast of Jersey, a crown addiction.