UK Fishermen Prepare for French Blockades, Slam EU for ‘Nuclear Option’ Trade Tactics

NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN - MARCH 3: Scottish trawler men aboard the trawler, Carina, haul in their catch some 70 miles off the North coast of Scotland, in The North Atlantic on March 5, 2004. Fishing boats operating out of the UK are constantly fighting to stay solvent due to the …
Chris Furlong/Getty Images

A British fishing organisation is preparing for a return to the infamous English Channel scallops wars, as they anticipate blockades by French fishermen with the UK government refusing to back down on claiming back territorial waters.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has said that fishing will be the “acid test” of whether the British government successfully delivers on the June 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union.

Under EU rules, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) sees more than 60 per cent of Britain’s fish landings caught by EU fishermen. The proportion varies, however, by fish and area of the water, with French fishermen accessing 84 per cent of English Channel cod. The British are legally entitled to just nine per cent.

The transition period ends on December 31st, 2020, and the government has come under pressure from leftists and Europhiles to delay the exit due to coronavirus, and in case a new deal with the EU is not reached. Leading figures in the fishing industry, however, do not back an extension to the transition period and want to regain their waters outright without delay.

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations chief executive, Barrie Deas, said the workers he represents look forward to the end of the CFP. Mr Deas slammed the EU’s position of no deal without fishing waters as the “nuclear option”.

Mr Deas said, according to The Guardian, that he thinks, however, it is “not very likely” that the UK will capitulate on fishing, as it “remains an emblematic issue for the government”.

On Tuesday, the government brushed off recent claims in the media that the UK was about to back down on fishing sovereignty, with Downing Street calling it “wishful thinking by the EU”.

The fishing chief continued that if there is a deviation from the CFP status quo, the French, who benefit the most from the current arrangement, will likely organise blockades in an attempt to obstruct British fishermen.

“France benefits more than anybody else from relative stability from the current quota shares. If there’s any change to that, those quota shares or any other aspect that affects French fishermen, as day follows night there will be blockades, they have done it for much less in the past,” Mr Deas said, alluding to the “scallop wars”.

Two summers ago, Cornish and French fishing boats clashed in the English Channel, with the French blocking the British fishing for scallops 12 nautical miles off of the Normandy coast, despite EU rules mandating it permissible. Another conflict had occurred over scallops in 2012, while in September 2018, Cornish fishermen accused their French counterparts of sabotaging their crab pots.

The prime minister’s spokesman said on Tuesday: “We have always been clear there is no question of splitting the difference on the level-playing field and fish.

“We aren’t compromising on these because our position on these is fundamental to an independent country. Any agreement has to deal with this reality.

“We have set out what we are looking for — a balanced solution to reflect political realities on both sides.

“What we can’t do is agree anything that would give up our rights as an independent state.”

This is not the only Anglo-French battle raging in the English Channel, with tensions rising over the French Navy escorting boat migrants from the coast of France to British territorial waters, handing them off to UK Border Force despite the British paying the French millions to stop illegal migration.

 

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