The fisherman are protesting a post-Brexit fishing licensing rule which means that those with a boat under 12 metres are unable to apply for a fishing permit
French fisherman have blockaded British ships after feeling ‘humiliated’ by Britain over post-Brexit operating licences.
The fisherman lined their boats across the entrance to St Malo port from dawn to stop the British Normandy Trader getting into the Brittany port from Jersey.
The disgruntled men aim to target ferries arriving in Ouistreham and Calais, and want to use their vehicles to disrupt the access road to the Channel Tunnel.
Pascal Lecler, one of the fishermen said: “We’re hostage to politics. It doesn’t make us happy to be here, but it can’t go on.’
Mr Lecler who works in St Malo shared his frustration over the fact that around 150 French boats were still waiting for Britain to grant them licences to fish in British waters.
Gerard Romiti, Chairman of France’s powerful National Fisheries Committee, said: “This is to demonstrate how professional fishermen come together in response to the UK’s provocative, contemptuous and humiliating attitude towards them.”
Mr Romiti said that the blockades are expected to last for a couple of hours each, and were ‘warning shots’ to show Britain that the Fisherman are growing restless.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said in response to the blockade: “We are disappointed by threats of protest activity.
“It will be a matter for the French to ensure that there are no illegal actions and that trade is not affected.”
British environment minister George Eustice has previously described the threat of French blockades as ‘disappointing’, ‘disproportionate’ and ‘[not] compatible with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement or wider international law.’
Prior to Brexit, EU laws gave French fishermen had free rights to fish in British waters with a license provided by the French government.
However, after the Brexit Agreement came into force earlier this year, the rules changed and the fisherman now need to apply to the UK for a license.
Under the new rules, any boats that had fished in British waters ‘for at least four years between 2012 and 2016’ should be granted the same level of access.
In order to be granted a permit, the British government is asking for French fishermen to provide data and tracking to prove they were fishing for those years.
However, the French say this rule is unfair as the Brexit Agreement makes no mention of such data and smaller vessels under 12m do not collect this data.
The rules remain in place until 2026, and then Britain and France will have to come to a new agreement over a fishing deal.