| 10.1°C Dublin

French fishermen say Channel licences ‘a matter of life and death’

Close

A fisherman empties a fishing net yesterday aboard the trawler Adele Camille in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. Photo: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

A fisherman empties a fishing net yesterday aboard the trawler Adele Camille in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. Photo: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

A fisherman empties a fishing net yesterday aboard the trawler Adele Camille in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. Photo: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

Fishermen along France’s northern coast have described being granted access to British waters as “a matter of life and death” as talks to settle the row over fishing licences continue.

France has accused the UK of failing to honour a post-Brexit deal to grant licences to French boats, although Paris held off threats to impose punitive action against British vessels that could have been implemented yesterday.

Jeremy Lhomel, a fisherman based in Boulogne-sur-Mer, said the inability to access British waters was catastrophic for those earning a living from fishing in the Channel.

“This situation with the licences, we think there’s a lot of bad faith because we are small family boats, we have three, four people on board, we don’t empty the sea, we deal with very few fish, and for us the situation is catastrophic because we can no longer access these waters,” he said.

“For us it’s vital to get these licences so that we can fish. It’s a matter of life or death.”

Mr Lhomel said fishermen working from the port of Boulogne who have not received licences have lost access to “half of the Strait” of Dover – the narrowest part of the Channel.

“We can no longer fish properly,” he said.

The British government has said it is issuing licences to vessels that can prove they have previously fished in UK waters.

However, Mr Lhomel in- sisted he had sent UK authorities all the evidence possible and noted that small boats lacked relevant tracking systems to prove their presence in British waters.

He pointed out that all Boulogne fishing boats had previously been in UK waters.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“How can the British government say that we never fished in British waters?” he said.

Samuel Deshayes, a trawler owner in Granville, Normandy, also suspected a level of dishonesty among British authorities.

He was dismayed by French president Emmanuel Macron’s move to suspend threats to block British boats from landing their catches in French ports and tighten customs checks from midnight.

Mr Macron said no measures would be imposed before a meeting between the Brexit minister, David Frost, and France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, in Paris tomorrow.

“We don’t know what to expect. We learn new things every day,” Mr Deshayes said.

“We will not give up until everyone has obtained a licence


Most Watched





Privacy