Fishing in the English Channel: France strikes back

A French fishing boat positioned in front of Saint-Hélier, Isle of Jersey, to protest against British restrictions on their activity in the area, restrictions perceived as unfair.


Text by: Alexis Bedu Follow

4 min

France had warned, it is now implementing its threats in the explosive post-Brexit fishing issue.

Retaliatory measures will be put in place against the UK from November 2.

Paris is still asking for licenses for French fishermen to travel to British waters around the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

Licenses refused by London.


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Confidence was already broken between Paris and London, but this is yet another wake-up call in the Franco-British standoff.

France had


to take restrictive measures for some time.

Boris Johnson's government had nothing to do with it, granting its fishing licenses in a trickle: 210 definitive licenses accepted, while Paris claimed 200 more for the waters of the Channel Islands.




did not work.

It is therefore a first burst of measures that has been



France is standing up with its fishermen and showing that it will not give up on this issue.

British fishing targeted

Paris has decided to “

 ban the landing of



” in France.

A measure that could hit British fishermen hard, because 80% of seafood from the United Kingdom is intended for export.

Sailors from across the Channel come mainly to Boulogne-sur-Mer, north of the French coast, to sell their goods.

This will no longer be possible.

The second measure concerns the establishment of " 

systematic customs and sanitary controls on British products landed


Also reinforcement of " 

controls on British imports


This could affect carriers who have their freight trucks transported by Calais, by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel.

Complicate exchanges

This Thursday morning, the first example of these restrictions, two English vessels fishing in French waters were fined by the Normandy maritime gendarmerie.

The Ministry of the Sea explains that this operation is already part of the tightening of controls in the Channel.

Everything will be done to complicate the exchanges.

In the ports, on the carrier side, administrative delays will waste even more time and money for British companies.

The goal is to get the Johnson government to react at a time when the country is already experiencing shortages in businesses.

Fishing, a symbol of tensions

London only understands "

 the language of force,

 " French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune said on Thursday, October 28.

This fishing issue has gradually become a symbol of post-Brexit tensions.

It was on this point that the negotiations stumbled before the signing of the agreement last December.

The British ended up granting a quota of licenses to European fishermen, but France feels aggrieved.


It's not war, but it's a fight,

assured Annick Girardin, French Minister of the Sea, this Thursday at our colleagues at RTL. 

French fishermen have rights.

There was an agreement signed, we must apply this agreement.

It has always been said that Brexit in France would look like a fisherman.

The fisheries dossier is one of the main irritants in relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom.


France is also asking for stronger support from the European Commission, which must " 

work harder to ensure that the United Kingdom meets its commitments 

", believes Ms. Girardin.

London calls for "de-escalation"

The United Kingdom says it is disappointed and castigates "



restrictive measures 

, while " 

calling for de-escalation

 ", according to a government spokesperson.

For their part, the British fishermen have turned against the European countries.

Last December, your European governments scalped us at the last moment to get an agreement on Brexit, they started blocking the ports on the French side

 ", explains John Nichols, president of the Thanet Fishermen's association, the largest fishing association in the Kent in the south of the country.


This blackmail of the French, Belgians and Dutch,” he

adds, “ 

is really disgusting.

The Europeans tell us: “

Look if you don't give us what we want in the fishing grounds, we can continue to block you.

” It's disgusting. 


A second round of measures is being considered by France if the matter is not resolved in the coming weeks.

This time it could affect Britain's energy supply.

► By the same author: The regrets of British fishermen after Brexit


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