Desperate French fishermen rage at Macron as they face post-Brexit ruin: ‘Act now!’
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President Emmanuel Macron was warned that many French vessels have yet to be granted their licences for accessing Britain’s fishing grounds. It was also claimed that while guaranteed access to UK waters, French fishermen now must fight to save their industry as those opportunities can soon be revoked. Frederic Cuvillier, the mayor of the coastal region of Boulogne-sur-Mer, has called on Paris and the European Union to do more to ensure fishing opportunities are maintained after Brexit.
He said: “We must not wait!
“Now is the time for the French government to react and take the lead in fisheries negotiations.
“France and the European Union must now put in place the Brexit support plan.”
French sources expected northern coastal communities to receive a large chunk of the EU’s €5 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve to help fishermen adapt to the new UK-EU relationship.
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As part of the Brexit trade deal, Brussels will hand back 25 percent of the catch of EU vessels in British waters by total value over the next five-and-a-half years.
After the transition period, the UK and EU will hold annual negotiations on access, with British politicians able to completely shut out European boats if they choose to do so.
While this is seen as a fair compromise by politicians, furious fishermen on both sides of the Channel have claimed they were betrayed by their leaders.
Jean-Francois Rapin, a senator for Pas-de-Calais in northern France, visited the region as part of a delegation exploring the immediate impacts of Brexit.
The Frenchman, who is President of the European Affairs Committee in the Senate, said Paris would have to look carefully at the fresh challenges for their fishing industry after losing some access to Britain’s waters.
He described it as the beginning of the fight for France’s trawlermen with the industry only guaranteed opportunities in UK fishing grounds until June 2026.
Mr Rapin said: “There was an exaltation of the fishermen at the state. Now, we will have to look at the quotas. A 25 percent drop is not nothing!
“And what will be the next step? If it is 15 percent in the first year, that could put some companies in great difficulties.”
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He also claimed he was shocked to see exports of processed seafood to Britain have all but dried up because of the increased levels of red tape.
Mr Rapin said: “I was shocked to learn from the General-Secretary of the General Union of Fishmongers that no processed seafood has been exported to the United Kingdom.
“The deadline had been set at 72 hours after the entry into force of Brexit. There is still work to be done and should push us to be even more vigilant.”
The senator claimed traffic between the ports of Calais and Dover had slowed because of the introduction of new customs paperwork now Britain has left the single market and customs union.
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“There is a very significant loss of turnover due to this lack of traffic,” he said.
“It is important to clarify the situation at the administrative level to improve the traffic flow.”
But he also blamed Britain’s coronavirus lockdown after it emerged a mutant strain of the disease was spreading across the country.
Mr Rapin added: “Flows are very slow for the moment for two reasons: first because economic activity at the start of the year is still rather calm and second because we are feeling the impact of the British lockdown.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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