French fishermen threaten to block the canal tunnel, end up in protest against fishing licenses

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A post on Thursday from a group of fishermen on Facebook said they would block ferries in Saint-Malo, Calais and Ouistreham “in order to condemn the terms of the Brexit agreement and its consequences for fishermen.”

The head of a fishing association told CNN that a protest would start at 1pm local time in Ouistreham and that 15 boats would block the port in the area. He said other groups would block two other areas.

The fishermen said they were sending “a warning” to demand that the UK quickly grant fishing licenses after Brexit.

Fishing boats leave the port of Calais on 25 January 2018 to take part in a blockade to protest against electric pulse fishing practiced by fishermen from the Netherlands.

“We do not want dividends, we just want our licenses back. Britain must follow the agreement after Brexit. Too many fishermen are still in the dark,” Gérard Romiti, chairman of the National Committee on Sea Fisheries, told CNN affiliate BFMTV.

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The Fishermen’s Association told an online news conference that a large number of vehicles would be used to block access to the Eurotunnel, which is used to transport goods by rail between Britain and France, according to Reuters.

The British government responded on Thursday, saying it was “disappointed” by threats of protests from French fishermen.

“We are looking to the French authorities to ensure that there are no illegal acts and that trade is not affected,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “We have licensed almost 1,700 EU vessels in total; our licensing strategy has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

“We continue to work with the Commission and the French authorities and will consider further evidence provided to support the remaining license applications.”

The protests represent the latest round of tensions in a long-running dispute between Britain and France over the rights of French and British vessels to fish in each country’s waters after Brexit.

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