French fishermen to block ports, tunnel in spit with Britain

CALAIS, FRANCE – French fishing crews are threatening to block French ports and traffic under the English Channel on Friday in order to disrupt the flow of goods to Britain, in a dispute over fishing licenses after Brexit.

It is the latest point of tension between neighboring countries, which is also to blame for not doing enough to prevent the deaths of at least 27 migrants whose boat sank on Wednesday off Calais, in the choppy waters of the world’s busiest shipping lane.

French fishermen are angry at the British government for not granting more licenses to fish in British waters – and angry at their own government for not doing more to defend them.

The fishing industry is economically small but symbolically important for both the UK and France.

Friday’s threatened blockades are “a warning shot”, Olivier Lepretre, chairman of the regional fisheries committee, told reporters.

Fishing crews are expected to use their boats to block ports in Calais, Saint-Malo and Ouistreham, and to use cars to block the motorway leading to the tunnel under the canal.

Fishermen are protesting to “react to the scornful and humiliating attitude of the British”, said Gerard Romiti, chairman of the National Fisheries Committee, to reporters.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was “disappointed by the threat of protest activity”.

Before Brexit, French fishermen could fish deep in British waters. Now they need a special license from the British authorities to fish in certain areas. Most French boats have received the special licenses, but not all.

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