France threatens fishing war: ‘If they are stopping us, we need to stop them’

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Just 12 out of 47 applications were granted and in Jersey, the scene of violent confrontations earlier this year, 75 French requests were refused.

It follows years of “Scallop War” clashes in which French fishermen try to halt British boats.

Derek Meredith, 53, a fishing boat skipper in Brixham, Devon, said: “If they are going to stop us going there, we need to stop them going here.

“It is all to do with the backlash they are going to get and the bad publicity around the Scallop Wars.

“As for the French boats, I would chuck the lot out. Even one licence is one licence too many.”

France accused Britain of holding its fishermen hostage despite a new post-Brexit agreement. French fishermen are furious that British scallopers can fish year-round but they are banned between May 15 and October 1.

Britain is now an independent coastal state and London and Brussels have agreed 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to our fleet over five years.

In 2019 British boats caught 502,000 tons of fish worth around £850million inside UK exclusive economic zone waters.

But by June 2026 UK boats will have access to an extra £145million of fishing quota every year.

Mr Meredith said: “The French boats that fish this side are big boats and stay for a week. We are a small trawling fleet a third of the size and fish for two days.

“They are now threatening to cut electric cables. It is anarchy, terrorism.”

Former EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, now running for the French presidency, said penalising fishermen could scupper UK-French relations.

And Brittany’s regional council president Loig Chesnais-Girard has called for EU “retaliatory measures”.

But Jersey’s external relations minister Ian Gorst said the island’s approach was “pragmatic, reasonable and evidence-based”.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said its attitude had been “reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Co-operation Agreement”.

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