Brexit: French fisherman reveals plans for 'retaliation'
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The increasingly frustrated fishermen have warned they are ready to block Calais, Dunkirk and the Channel Tunnel. France has been left furious at the number of licenses its fishermen have been granted by the UK to fish in British waters after Brexit. Last month, the UK said it had approved just 12 of the 47 applications it had received from small boats in France.
Anger intensified when the Jersey Government said that of 170 license applications it had received from French boats, close to half (75) had been rejected.
Speaking from the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, French fisherman Laurent Merlin said they are “in a constant state of anxiety and anger”.
In a huge warning to the UK, he told the BBC: “We are waiting until Friday, and then we’ll start to organise ourselves to attack.
“We’ll create as much disruption as we can, by blocking the things Britain needs the most.
“We saw the impact of the gas shortage; we’ll try to create another shortage of something else.
“We’re ready to block everything: Calais, Dunkirk, the Channel Tunnel. We need this fishing license and we’ll do anything to get it.”
Benoit Firmin, who is the manager of the local fishing committee in the region, warned that any blockade would likely target Christmas supplies and be wider than just the port in Boulogne.
He even took a swipe at the continued supply chain crisis sweeping throughout the UK, and said: “We haven’t even blocked yet and already there is a lack of food, petrol and staff.”
Mr Firmin added: “Are we going to make things worse? Maybe, but there’s a lot of frustration among the community, so fair enough.”
Earlier this month, French fishing industry representatives had already threatened to block the port of Calais and stop exports to the UK in the run-up to Christmas.
This came after French European minister Clement Beaune warned EU member states are preparing to announce measures to apply pressure on the UK to abide by the terms of the Brexit deal.
He warned: He raged: “We defend our interests. We do it nicely, and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work, we take measures.
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“For example, we can imagine, since we’re talking about energy, the United Kingdom depends on our energy supplies.
“It thinks that it can live all alone, and bash Europe.”
But the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost hit back: “We have granted 98 percent of the licence applications from EU boats to fish in our waters according to the different criteria in the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, so we do not accept that we are not abiding by that agreement.
“We have been extremely generous and the French, focusing in on a small category of boats and claiming we have behaved unreasonably, I think is not really a fair reflection of the efforts we have made.”
On Tuesday, France rallied its EU allies and issued a joint statement urging the UK to ensure “continuity” for French fishermen after Brexit.
France also urged Britain to “respect the Brexit deal” and claimed a demand from Britain for smaller fishing boats to provide historic geolocation data was “not provided for in the deal, and is not required by European regulations”.
The statement added: “We, therefore, call on the United Kingdom to promptly respond and undertake further technical work in accordance with the agreement.”
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