Brexit: France prepares to compensate unlicensed vessels, “failure” for fishermen – 18.11.2021 at. 19:12

A French fisherman in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, in el Pas-de-Calais, 3 November 2021 (AFP / DENIS CHARLET)

A French fisherman in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, in el Pas-de-Calais, 3 November 2021 (AFP / DENIS CHARLET)

“It means it’s the end”: French fishermen expressed their anger on Thursday after Maritime Minister Annick Girardin mentioned a compensation plan for those who could no longer work because of Brexit, seen by professionals as the recognition of a “defeat” of France.

Faced with the difficulties of obtaining fishing rights, particularly from the authorities on the Anglo-Norman island of Jersey, Mrs Girardin announced on Thursday morning that “fleet exit plans” had been drawn up to compensate fishermen whose vessels would not obtain a license. and would eventually stay at the quay.

The announcement had the effect of a bomb at the Assizes de la Mer organized in Saint-Pol-de-Léon (Finistère), where local elected officials and professionals immediately rejected the hypothesis of a “massive plan for the destruction of boats” during negotiations continue with London.

But also in French ports, whose activity largely depends on British waters.

“The defeat was predictable (…). It’s a failure,” Pascal Delacour, chief of a trawler in Granville (Manche), told AFP. “France has lowered its trousers and left its young sailors because, above all, it is they who do not have licenses.”

“France is lowering its trousers”, also told the AFP president of the Côtes-d’Armor fisheries committee, Alain Coudray, for whom “with the English (…) we must not give up an inch, you have to show your teeth otherwise …”

While France has already lowered its demands, professionals have the feeling of giving up.

“It is visibility that you need. I will therefore be honest with you, we must prepare for these losses,” the minister told them this morning.

She clarified that “an envelope of 40 to 60 million euros” could be “laid on the table”, supplemented by European funds to support the consequences of Brexit, to compensate fishermen whose vessels can not be taken back and will end up being the scrap.

– “The government throws the flag” –

“The government is disarmed. The plan to leave the fleet is the ax. That means it is the end. (…) The government is lowering its flag, whereas it had promised retaliatory measures,” criticizes Hauts president-de-France regional fisheries committee Olivier Leprêtre.

French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin at the Elysee Palace on 17 November 2021 (AFP / Ludovic MARIN)

French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin at the Elysee Palace on 17 November 2021 (AFP / Ludovic MARIN)

Faced with the call, the minister spent an hour with the professionals at the end of the day. “The government’s priority is to obtain licenses”, but “it does not prevent predicting the future of the sector”, including by compensating those who stay at the quay, she insisted.

She admitted that her morning speech could have given some impression that France “gave up”, but assured that she “will continue to fight with the fishermen so that no one is left. In the side of the road”.

Under the Brexit agreement signed at the end of 2020 between London and Brussels, European fishermen can continue to work in British waters, provided they can prove that they fished there before. But the French and British are arguing over the nature and extent of the supporting documents to be presented.

In areas that are still controversial, the governments of London and the Channel Islands have so far granted almost 220 permanent licenses. France is still asking for about 150 licenses (up from 170 a month ago), according to a poll by AFP.

Ms. Girardin reported on progress, particularly with Guernsey, but strongly condemned the neighboring island’s stance, finding “obviously that Jersey does not respect the Brexit agreement”.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson welcomes President Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland on 1 November 2021 (POOL / Christopher Furlong)

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson welcomes President Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland on 1 November 2021 (POOL / Christopher Furlong)

About a quarter of the French catches (excluding the Mediterranean) in volume (about 20% in value) come from British waters, which are rich in fish.

By the time dozens of provisional licenses expired at the end of September, France had sharpened its tone and announced sanctions, including a landing ban for British ships and tighter customs controls if no progress was made.

The threat had finally subsided, especially after the meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but the crisis tends to get stuck.

bur-sb / tq / ico / els

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