Angry French fishermen threaten British imports

Fishermen in northern France have threatened to disrupt British imports in a bid to increase pressure on London to grant them more licences for UK waters.

fishing boat France
Angry French fishermen threaten British imports. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

Britain agreed to issue another 23 licences to French fishermen on Saturday, a step aimed at easing tensions between the neighbours who have been at loggerheads over the issue for the last six months.

But France believes it is entitled to around 80 more UK licences and a group representing fishermen in the key port of Boulogne-sur-Mer and others along the northern coast said late Saturday that they would launch protests.

READ ALSO – EXPLAINED: Why are France and the UK fighting about fish?

“Protests should be expected … protests that will target British imports,” the local CRPMEM fishing industry group for the Hauts-de-France region said in a statement sent to AFP.

The group said its members were “exasperated” by the news of only 23 new licences and felt “betrayed” by the European Commission, which could launch legal action against Britain over the issue.

The CRPMEM said the protests would be “in line with blockades of ports in Brittany, Normandy and the north of France which took place on November 26th”.

Fishing boats briefly blocked ferries and other boats in Calais, Saint-Malo and Ouistreham on that day, while vehicles were also sent to disrupt traffic seeking to use the Channel Tunnel rail link.

France and Britain have clashed repeatedly this year over fishing as well as migrants crossing the Channel, post-Brexit trade arrangements and the sale of submarines to Australia.

London briefly deployed two gunboats in May when dozens of French trawlers massed off the Channel Island of Jersey to protest the licensing problems, prompting France to send two coastal patrol vessels.

Member comments

  1. This is all because of a bad agreement. If people think things are bad now, wait until the euro quota is reduced by 50%
    The EU have not done any planning to reduce the size of the EU fishing fleet.
    It is their inactivity that has been partly responsible for this crisis. Why have they not done more to help small boats with their paperwork ? – no instead they have chosen to whine and moan.
    I feel sorry for those who have not got licences, but this is only going to get worse as the UK will now decide who gets to fish and who will have to find other work, as they will decide who gets licences in the future
    They talk about taking the UK to court – but all the UK has to do is provide examples of why licences were refused – the EU know they will no win
    The EU does not care about fishing – hence no reprisals as yet
    The French are having to take things in their own hands as the rest of the EU will not support them
    The whole thing is a farce – the current trade agreement is poor and will lead to a trade war – it benefits neither the UK or the EU – time to start again and create an agreement of cooperation and not one of adversity

    1. Not everything is as it appears. The leader of the last Fishing protest a couple of weeks ago had apparently sold his boat , along with a UK licence, bought a new unlicenced boat and was now insisting that he as skipper was licensed due to his personal fishing history in British waters. I trust he didn’t get one but that claim must still have passed muster with the French authorities , if not the UK and EU.

      1. Alan, I am sorry your glass is still half empty, but please look at the agreement that the uk signed. The uk people were lied to. All France is asking for is what they and the uk signed up to – remember that, when Boris hailed it as a great deal? Well, maybe not in reality.

        1. If you read the annex to the T&C agreement you’ll see that UK is following the agreement and French demands are outside that agreement and that is why the EU is so quiet on the subject. You’ll also notice that despite all the bluff and bluster the French have never backed up a complaint regarding a single licence by showing an application and supporting evidence that was then rejected. I’m sorry that you’re so gullible but there we are.

          1. I would with respect ask you to read it again and then see who is gullible. The uk are playing games with this agreement.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.