French fishermen have threatened to retaliate against the British by blocking ports and halting British ferries from entering French waters if the UK doesn’t allow EU fishermen to fish in British waters.
Al Jazeera interviewed French fisherman Jerome Vicquelin in regards to EU UK negotiations and fisheries. The Normandy Fisherman said: “We are scared because British waters represent 40 to 60 percent of our revenue, so for us, it would be catastrophic. It is unimaginable.”
Al Jazeera’s, Natacha Butler, speaking from a fishing boat in Normandy, said: “If the UK and EU fail to reach a deal by the end of the year, French fishermen could be barred from fishing off the UK coast.”
She added: “Being denied access to British waters would be particularly devastating to the fishermen from the Normandy coast because so many of the boats are family-owned small businesses.
“Many of the fishermen vow not to give up their livelihoods without a fight.”
Vicquelin explained the French punishment threat: “The British export some 70 percent of their fish to the EU.
“If we get to December 31st and they throw us out of their waters, then we will block our ports and stop the ferries. No British boats or fish will reach French soil.”
This drastic threat isn’t a long term solution as stated by Dimitri Rogoff, head of the Normandy Fishing Committee: “The EU market needs fish, it imports it. France imports 80 percent of the seafood it consumes, so we need UK fish.
“So, although we can pressure the British and threaten tariffs and border controls, it’s not a long-term solution.”
As said before, threats made by the member states of the EU are not a long term solution and will not work as a mechanism to strong-arm the continuation of unfettered access into British waters. The British government and negotiators have said that the UK will be taking back its fishing waters at the end of the year once the transition period comes to an end on December 31st 2020.
Barnier continues to push for joint control of the UK sovereign waters; this has firmly been rejected countless times. David Frost, who is the UK Chief negotiator in these talks has stood firm saying, the EU needs to treat the UK as a third country, not a member of the EU. Joint control of UK sovereign waters isn’t treating us or respecting us as a “sovereign coastal nation-state”.