The Daily Telegraph reports:
French fishermen fear that Brexit could wreck their industry if they are denied crucial access to British territorial waters in the Channel.
The French National Fisheries Committee complained on Tuesday that larger vessels accustomed to fishing in British territorial waters could be deprived of up to 80 per cent of their catch.
French boats are currently allowed to fish up to six nautical miles from the British coast but EU laws prevent British vessels from fishing within 12 miles of the French coast.
The committee has written to the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, warning that Normandy, Brittany and the ‘Hauts de France’ region around Calais could be “very badly affected” by Britain’s departure from the EU.
Bruno Margollé, head of a fishing cooperative, said: “If tomorrow we can no longer exercise our historic rights (to fish) in English waters, that could mark the end of French fishing in Boulogne. The impact is going to be huge.”
Boulogne-sur-Mer is France’s largest fishing port and the head of the regional Fisheries Committee, Olivier Leprêtre, said: “We’re really worried. If the English take back their waters we’ll lose important fishing areas.”
Jean-Pierre Le Visage of the Scapêche company, which claims to be France’s leading fishing vessel owner, said: “If we’re talking about the nationalisation of British waters, we would lose 70 to 80 per cent of our volumes.”
About 80 per cent of France’s fishing boats never leave French territorial waters, but the remaining 20 per cent, which are larger vessels, bring in up to two-thirds of the national catch.
Many British fishermen say their industry has been crippled by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which governs where fleets can fish and sets quotas to conserve fish stocks.
Most fishermen voted to leave the EU, surveys show, but since the Brexit vote they have been warned of the difficulties of negotiating new arrangements.
Read more at the Daily Telegraph