EU: Bocquet on ‘realignment mechanisms’ in fishing waters
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They have accused Downing Street of rowing back on promises made in the post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU to let the bloc’s boats access our fishing grounds. Union bosses are currently meeting to finalise plans for the demonstration, expected to take place on Thursday and Friday. Ministers were last year warned there is a “very realistic chance” that ports could be blockaded by French fishing fleets in future rows over access to our waters.
Trawlermen in northern France have complained that more than 80 percent of boats operating out of Boulogne-sur-Mer have not been granted licences to fish within the UK’s six to 12-mile coastal zone.
In a statement, they claimed just 22 out of 120 vessels were granted permission by the Government to operate in that area.
It sais: “The fishermen of Hauts-de-France have shown extreme patience.
“But after being more than conciliatory, they are sounding the alarm bells to draw attention to an economic disaster in the industry.”
The fishermen claim they have already been “extremely weakened” by Brexit and insist they will not stand by and allow their industry to collapse.
They added: “This accumulation of problems is suffocating and it condemns not only the fishing industry but also all professionals in the agro-fisheries sector in Hauts-de France.”
French boats have long profited from their generous access to Britain’s coastal waters.
Under the UK-EU future relationship pact, Brussels agreed to hand back 25 percent of the fish its fleet catches in British waters.
This will be phased in over a five-and-a-half-year transition period, due to expire in June 2026, before annual negotiations over future access.
France’s hardline European affairs minister Clement Beaune last week vowed to keep battling to ensure French fishermen can use British waters.
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Mr Beaune, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, said he was striving to ensure the post-Brexit fisheries agreement is upheld.
He said: “What is important now is full application of the agreement as stated and we have not got to that point yet.
“We’ve been fighting since January 1 so that the licences are given to our fishermen, so their rights to access the fishing zones are guaranteed.”
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Mr Beaune revealed that still not all of the French fishing fleet has been granted licences to use our lucrative coastal waters.
“This is a fight that has been fought since January 1, but we have not won yet,” he said.
“We will continue and we will continue to be firm.”
This also poses a question to what will happen to the European fishing fleet’s access to British waters after the transition period expires in 2026, he added.
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