Six months after Brexit went into effect, French fishermen from the north coast are still waiting to reach British fisheries in the English Channel.

According to the EU-UK Trade Agreement, EU fishermen are allowed to fish in UK waters subject to a permit. In order to receive them, they must prove that their boats fished in the disputed area between 2012 and 2016 (the year of the Brexit referendum). They also need to equip their ships with devices that allow them to determine their location. According to the French, these requirements were not agreed upon during the UK’s negotiations with the EU.

– The licenses will be issued within a few days – the Minister of Maritime Affairs confirmed next January France Annick Girardin.

However, about 80 percent. The French fleet has not yet received them in the Hauts-de-France region. A similar problem concerns fishermen in Normandy, where on April 30, Jersey, a territory of Great Britain, issued only 41 licenses for 266 applications submitted. At the same time, Jersey imposed additional restrictions on fishing off the Channel Islands. However, the French authorities stated that it was not extradited to the European Union, rendering it “void”.

Some do 60 percent. Fishing in British waters. If things don’t change, the profession will die and there is no financial aid [francuskim rybakom] It won’t help, says Olivier Lepreter, head of the Hauts-de-France Regional Committee for Fisheries.

The British are delaying their permits, which only exacerbates the row. In April, the French from Boulogne-sur-Mer blocked British trucks transporting fish to a processing center in northern France. In early May, more than 50 fishing boats closed the Jersey port in protest of fishing conditions. In response, Great Britain sent warships. Jersey waters have reopened to the French under pressure from the French government, but only until the end of June for now.

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British-French fight over fish

Why was hunting the cause of conflict between Great Britain and the European Union? On the other hand, there is the question of sovereignty – the British want to regain sole control of fishing rights off their coast. The contested waters are also exceptionally rich fishing grounds due to the life cycle of the main species exploited by European fishermen. Simply put, the further north you go, the more fish there are. With London regaining sole control of fishing rights off its coast, it will be able to regulate access to these resources in annual negotiations with the European Union. For the first time, British fisheries associations have applied to restrict access to fisheries by EU fishermen Brixi.

Great Britain exports 70 percent of the seafood in the European Union. While fishing represents only a small part of the EU’s GDP, it is important for many coastal communities in the EU, especially in France.

– You should not negotiate with the British, you have to act – stated Natacha Bouchard, Vice-President of the Hauts-de-France region in an interview with fishermen at the end of May.

Bouchard sent a message to Emmanuel Macron about this. France’s National Committee for Fisheries (CNPMEM) also asked the President to meet to “explore all options” to implement the EU-London Agreement. Agreements providing for the issuance of a license without additional restrictions or restrictions. According to Bruno Margoli, who heads the main fishing cooperative in Boulogne-sur-Mer, the president was supposed to raise the issue with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 summit, but the situation has not changed so far.

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Dutch fish a lot?

But Brexit is not the only problem facing French fishermen. In the English Channel, they are concerned that Dutch fishermen are fishing off the coast of France without British licenses.

– Their ships are too big and drain resources. This is industrial fishing. We must limit their size and number. If we don’t, says Philip Calon, a Normandy fisherman, we’ll have nothing to catch soon.

The Dutch responded to these accusations that they were prepared to reduce the catch. So the French proposed an agreement that would include, among other things, limited access for Dutch ships to an area of ​​6-12 nautical miles from the French coast. However, it was not signed.

“The Dutch don’t want to reduce the number of days at sea to reduce fishing effort,” Margoli explains.

Of the 100 days proposed by the French, the Dutch producer organization Visned suggested 140. “This is 40 days less than at present,” said Visnedu’s director, Pim Visser.

The French also blamed the Dutch for the almost complete disappearance of the salt off the coast of Dunkirk. According to Stefan Pinto, Vice-Chairman of the Regional Fisheries Committee, this is the result of electro fishing practiced by Dutch fishing boats. The European Union decided to ban the use of this technique in fishing. It will enter into force in July this year.

As a result of declining stocks off the coast of Dunkerque was the closing of the local marine cooperative and fish auction in October 2020. This year, the salt population is gradually recovering.

Fishermen are afraid of wind turbines

In Normandy, fishermen are also protesting the recent start-up of an offshore wind farm in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc. The entire investment area will be closed to them for three years, so even though Ailes Marines (the developer) is offering them financial compensation, they don’t want to accept it. Olivier Pique, director of a cooperative of artisanal fishermen affiliated with Normandy, criticizes the project in particular for “starting the project without adequate environmental research”.

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“There are still a lot of unanswered questions,” Pique says.

Fishermen emphasize that they are not against wind farms, but they do not want to see them near their fishing grounds.

“The impact of offshore wind turbines on biodiversity and fish stocks is indisputable,” says Olivier Lepreter, who supports colleagues in Normandy.

Ailes Marines presented the results of environmental studies that showed that the sound waves generated by the drilling are consistent with the natural life cycle of the fish species studied. In turn, Ademe, the state agency for environmental transformation, acknowledges that “the impact [turbin wiatrowych] On marine mammals, fish and birds it is still difficult to measure.” Instead, he asserted, these parks create the effect of “artificial reefs that favor fish spawning.”

After several appeals by fishermen in the Saint-Brieuc case, in December 2020 a French court dismissed the latest case. The project started on May 3.

Why doesn’t the government put them on the beach? First Brexit, Covid, now these turbines… All of this puts our work at risk. We are afraid because this is only the first project. Who knows, maybe there will be more? We can’t let that happen, says Philip Calloni.