French fishermen are threatening to blockade the port of Calais to prevent any seafood getting into France from the UK after Brexit unless we allow them to fish in our waters.

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At the moment, unless the UK government specifically allows EU fishing vessels to operate in UK waters, they will be banned from doing so on day one and onwards of a no deal Brexit.

And the chairman of a French regional fisheries committee, Olivier Lepretre, is quoted in the Express as saying:

"If there is a hard Brexit, I can assure you that not a single kilo of seafood or fish from Britain will get into France. We would set up barricades. All the fishermen along the northern French coast will tell you the same thing."

This sort of blockade would, of course, in effect be a total blockade, as it would not only in all probability be too difficult to single out seafood, it would also cause all sorts of snarl-ups.

With 70% of UK fish stocks being hoovered up by EU fishing boats you can see why they are concerned. In fact one report said that fishing boats from the other EU states land ten times more fish from our waters than UK boats do from theirs.

And guess what also upsets Olivier Lepretre about all of this – the prospect of other EU27 nation fishing vessels crowding into French waters to make their living.

"We will find Belgian, Dutch and Spanish boats crammed into French waters." He said.

And here was me thinking that was the point and exactly what the French fishermen had been benefiting from for all this time.

He also said that 'every fisherman in Europe is fed up with the Common Fisheries Policy', so I say it's good that the UK is leaving it behind then isn't it.

And just imagine if France had full control over its own waters?

This issue of UK fishing waters has become a sort of litmus test for Brexit. So it's a bit irking when a French politician starts dictating to the UK about who can just swan in take UK resources.

Last month the French minister of agriculture said:

"There is no scenario in which French fishermen should be prevented, could be prevented, would be prevented by Boris Johnson from fishing in British waters.

"So I will keep telling Britain our fishermen must be allowed to keep fishing in its waters.

"What matters in a Brexit without an agreement is the impact on fishing and French fishermen. I really want to fight. Our fishermen must be able to continue to go to British waters."

And the French President himself has said that we must have an agreement on access to UK fishing grounds and also said that the Irish backstop was a lever to get that agreement.

As ever, everyone wants to boss the Brits about.

But there are other ports though and many of them are not in France.

Action like this could well damage the economy of that region as UK exports are sent elsewhere.

Now, a Guardian article from April 2018 points out that two thirds of the fish we consume in the UK is imported from overseas.

Now, I would hazard a guess that maybe some of that fish we import is fish caught in UK waters, landed in the EU, then brought into the UK.

Anyway, that aside, the UK fishing fleet is depleted from its pre-EU days and, if it continues fishing as now but with no EU vessels operating in our waters, then surely that will be good for the environment. And as time goes on we can start to increase the size of our fishing operations up to a properly sustainable level – both in terms of preventing overfishing and seabed damage but also the UK economy with regard to imports and exports.

Overall though it is important for the UK to take back control over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and to also enforce it. Anarchy within our waters is not what we want.

Sources:

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1163658/Brexit-news-UK-EU-France-fishing-Calais-Dover-no-deal-Boris-Johnson-latest-update

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/24/hard-brexit-would-mean-more-and-cheaper-british-fish-but-theres-a-catch

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