Brexit news: French fishermen’s leader faces expulsion from British waters | UK | News
The fisherman leading blockades of UK-bound trucks at Channel ports is one of few left without a licence to fish in British waters, it was revealed on Saturday. Mr Leprêtre, who as chairman of the regional fishermen’s committee coordinated stoppages at various ports and the Channel Tunnel on Friday, says he is being denied a licence because applications have to be based on fishing boats themselves rather than the personal experience of fishermen.
He is one of a number of applicants who have fallen foul of a requirement for proof of historical fishing based on a vessel’s GPS positions.
Post-Brexit Britain has insisted that all fishermen wishing to obtain a licence must prove they had habitually fished British waters before the withdrawal agreement.
French fishermen say they comply with the UK requirement to have fished in waters around Jersey and Guernsey between 2012 and 2016 but have since sold their boats.
One fisherman Luc Ramet said: “The English assigned my license to my old boat. I had sold it bareboat. As their allocation method involves the hull number, and you change it when you have a new boat, I couldn’t have the licence.”
Mr Leprêtre is reportedly in the same position.
His vessel, the Manureva, was spotted this week near Calais flying a bedsheet urging the British to “stop your fishy business”.
Militant French fishing barons have vowed to wreck Britain’s economy as skippers plotted a nationwide protest in a post-Brexit row over licences.
Mr Leprêtre appeared on French TV on Friday to boast that action aimed at UK-bound cargo was “unanimous” across several northern ports and that fishermen from different regions had never coordinated action in this way before.
He received a telephone call of support from French President Emmanuel Macron, he said.
French fishermen block roads and ports over Brexit licences
Mr Macron has sought the backing of multiple EU nations in fighting the so-called fishing wars with the UK.
The French Government wants the EC to threaten economic retaliation against the UK though it is understood that there is little willingness among other EU nations to start a trade war.
French Europe minister Clement Beaune last night said the row was “not taken seriously enough” by the European Commission and that Paris wanted it to be resolved by Christmas.
France has repeatedly threatened the UK over the issue.
Measures have included blocking British access to French ports, adding extra checks to British vehicles entering France, cutting electricity supplies to Jersey and the mainland as well as imposing sanctions and tariffs on British goods.
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The European Commission admits that almost all permanent licences requested by the European Union, mostly on behalf of French fishermen, have been granted.
An EU spokesperson said: “Since the beginning of 2021, 90 percent of all permanent licences requested by the EU have been delivered.”
They added: “Yet, we still have an important number of outstanding licence requests, and the process is too slow. We need a clear perspective to end the current climate of uncertainty for our fishers., as well as for the EU and the UK”.
A UK government spokesperson said: “The Environment Secretary had a constructive discussion with Commissioner Sinkevičius on Wednesday and technical discussions with the European Commission and French authorities will continue next week.”
They also stated: “Our approach to fisheries licences is evidence-based and completely in line with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”
Concluding the spokesperson said: “In total, we have licensed nearly 1,700 EU vessels to fish in our waters. Where vessels have provided the required evidence we have issued licenses and will continue to do so.”
It is thought that around 150 licence applications are outstanding.
The UK has allocated around 960 licences to French fishermen.