French fishermen blocked a British cargo ship from docking in a port in Brittany on Friday, in protest of what they say are measures by authorities in London and Jersey to withhold licenses to fish in British waters under a post-Brexit agreement.
The fishermen held up red flares as they circled their boats off Saint-Malo to block Normandy Trader’s road – a prelude to a planned blockade later on Friday of Calais and the Channel Tunnel, both major transport hubs for trade between Britain and continental Europe.
The one-hour protest against Saint-Malo and the larger operation further east along the coast of France risk a resurgence of a dispute between the two countries over a mutual licensing system for fishing vessels.
They are also indented in a row across the cross-Channel migration.
With the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the two sides agreed to set up a licensing system for the granting of fishing ships access to each other’s waters.
Paris says that London and the Channel Island of Jersey, a British crown dependent, do not respect the agreement and dozens of licenses to operate within their coastal waters are owed to French fishermen.
Britain says it respects post-Brexit arrangements.
In October, France briefly seized a British scallop dredger off its northern coast for operating without a legitimate permit, and this year both countries have sent patrol vessels to the waters off Jersey.
President Emmanuel Macron has accused Britain of pushing for its country’s patience and said the government would not give in to the dispute.
Fishing rights have haunted the Brexit negotiations for several years, not because of their economic importance but because of their political importance to both Macron and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Boris Johnson.
Separate French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin canceled a Sunday meeting with its British counterpart Priti Patel following criticism of France by Johnson for its handling of migration across channels, French media reported on Friday.
The meeting had been planned amid mutual accusations about how to curb the flow of migrants after 27 people drowned in attempts to reach the British coasts on Wednesday.