EU Fishermen Threaten to Blockade Ports If No Deal Ends Their Fishing Claims

TOPSHOT - The remains of a small boat flying European flags is burnt on a bonfire during a demonstration in Whitstable, southeast England on April 8, 2018 against the Brexit transition deal that would see Britain continue to adhere to the Common Fisheries Policy after formally leaving the EU. - …
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A French fisheries chief has threatened to blockade British goods at European ports if continental fishermen are no longer allowed to plunder Britain’s lucrative fishing waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit on January 1st.

The UK is set to leave the EU’s institutions at the end of the transition period on December 31st, 2020. While the UK has said she would regain full control of her territorial waters after Brexit, negotiating short-term licences for fishing rights to EU countries, Brussels has demanded continued access similar to the current Common Fisheries Policy.

The bloc is holding up agreeing on a post-Brexit deal on key issues including permanent fishing allocations, but if there is no deal by the end of the year, all territorial waters revert automatically to British control, regardless.

Dimitri Rogoff, the head of regional fisheries in Normandy, has threatened that in such an event, Frenchmen would blockade their country’s ports to British imports, adding that he believed Belgian and Dutch fishermen would follow suit, according to The Times on Tuesday.

“If we are deprived of our fishing grounds, we will not watch the British supply the French market,” Mr Rogoff told the radio network franceinfo.

“There will therefore be blockages to ferries, since this mainly happens by ferries. And on that, we are quite clear and determined.”

These are not idle threats, as French fishermen have attacked British boats in the past, namely during the 2018 Scallop Wars. More recently in October, the French threw flares and frying pans at British vessels which were legally fishing in French waters off the Normandy coast.

A surge of European industrial super trawlers is also causing havoc in British waters in the weeks leading up to the end of the transition period, resulting in the deaths of marine mammals, such as dolphins.

The fisheries chief made the remarks in response to the report last week that the Royal Navy was preparing to deploy River Class offshore patrol vessels to protect the UK’s exclusive economic zone in the event that European fishermen attempt to illegal plunder Brexit Britain’s stock.

On Monday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace articulated his support for the plans, telling The Telegraph: “We will be there to make sure we protect our fishermen because they have the right and deserve to be protected as well as going about their lawful business.”

Mr Wallace had earlier told “our European friends” during a trip to Estonia that “any ship that enters sovereign waters should follow the rule of law”.

“Whatever happens in negotiations we must respect each other’s sovereign waters and indeed follow the rule of law and behave peacefully,” he added.

Sources speaking to The Telegraph yesterday also said that the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told EU ambassadors during a closed-door meeting that a trade deal could be agreed this week — if Britain surrendered her waters.

Cross Channel sources are also split on whether progress on a deal could be made, with an EU diplomat telling the newspaper “there might now be a narrow path to an agreement visible” — while a British source said that “talks remain difficult and we have not made significant progress in recent days”.

British sources have also warned, however, against making any agreement that could keep the UK subject to the EU’s rules, with one saying: “The UK can not be locked into the EU’s regulatory orbit.”

Reports from today suggest that the two sides have an “architecture” in place for a deal. While a Downing Street source denied that the government had “backtracked” on any red lines including fishing, Brexit leader Nigel Farage warned that if there is a deal at this late stage of negotiation, it will not be a proper Brexit.

Predicting that the Tory leadership will sell a Brexit-in-name-only as a “fantastic victory”, the Brexiteer said on Monday during his inaugural episode of YouTube broadcast of Nigel Farage Live: “If we were going to leave on Australia terms, WTO terms, if we were going to leave with what they call no deal, yesterday [Sunday] was the day it would have happened.”

“I absolutely predict, that over the course of the next few days that there will be a deal, and we’ll be told ‘it’s a fantastic victory’, as we always are. When John Major came back from Maastricht it was game, set, and match.

“And yet, I think we’re going to get a Brexit that is beginning to look a little bit like Brexit in name only. I hope I’m wrong, but I think this is where it is going to go,” he said.

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