British cannot close off fishing waters post Brexit, says France

French Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume said Thursday it was "not possible" for Britain to close its waters to French and other EU fishermen after Brexit.

British cannot close off fishing waters post Brexit, says France
'Fishing For Leave' campaign group sign about Brexit on a boat in the harbour in Brixham, southern England, in October 2018. Photo: AFP
“We do not accept that… that is not what we want,” Guillaume told a meeting of fisheries professionals in the Channel port of Boulogne.
“Nobody would understand why, because of Brexit, the British would close off their territorial waters”.
Britain is set to leave the European Union in just a week's time on March 29 unless London wins an extension to its scheduled departure.

OPINION: Why French fishermen SHOULD be allowed to fish in UK waters after BrexitPhoto: AFP

Guillaume stressed London and the EU would have to agree on future fishing cooperation in the English Channel but insisted “we are confident” and “we are 
combative because we are resolutely out to defend French fishing and French fishermen”.
The minister added that French fishing boats should continue to fish as normal but warned that in the event of restrictions in British waters “we shall use all state means at our disposal… to achieve compensation.
“We shall leave not one fisherman in difficulty … because of Brexit,” concluded Guillaume, stressing that the French fishing industry should not suffer as a result of Britain's departure from the bloc.

Member comments

  1. Really – what did the French expect was going to happen when the UK left the EU? If President Macron had been more co-operative and less combative in his exchanges with the UK the situation would be different. My understanding of the withdrawl agreement if the UK left with a deal ten fishing would continue and new quotas would be part of the mew trade deal. But as Europe seems intent on UK leaving without a deal, then French and Dutch fishermen will suffer from the fallout.
    Its going to be UK navy and gunboats affair like iceland was

  2. Quite right too….That is exactly the way the French would behave in thissituation….”Hard ball”…

  3. Europe wants a deal, or preferably no Brexit at all, it is the DUP and others in UK parliament making things so difficult

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France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport.