Tensions escalate over Franco-British fishing dispute: ‘We will do everything to protect British interests’ | Abroad

Tensions escalate over Franco-British fishing dispute: 'We will do everything to protect British interests' |  Abroad

Britain and France are sharpening their knives for hunting war. According to the French, the British are violating the agreements enshrined in the Brexit agreement. President Macron and Prime Minister Johnson will meet this weekend at the G20 Summit in Rome.

The dispute over fishing rights has now reached an all-time high. President Emmanuel Macron is escalating tensions by raising the issue of Britain’s credibility “as it abandons its Brexit pledges”. For his part, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “Britain will do everything to protect British interests.” He fears that new trade agreements with the European Union, which were struck after Brexit, will be breached.

These are two powerful statements that could be a prelude to a new hunting war between the two countries. A war may lead to preventing British boats from entering French ports and Britain to chase French boats fishing in its waters.


It’s no surprise that the two countries are in conflict with each other over fishing rights, as this issue has been one of the biggest sticking points in concluding a new trade deal between Britain and the European Union. After very difficult deliberation, a compromise was reached that would allow European fishermen to catch 20% less fish in British waters over the next 5.5 years. They are allowed to do so if they obtain a permit from the British, as it must be proven that they have fished there before.

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Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi receives French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the G20 Summit in Rome. Ahead of the summit, Macron regrets Payet’s refusal to license French fishermen. © REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane

The risks now came when drivers in London and Channel Island in Jersey, off the coast of France, decided last month not to grant new fishing licenses to dozens of French boats. The French take this refusal very seriously. “Make no mistake, it worries us all,” Emmanuel Macron said before the G20 summit in Rome. “If you negotiate a treaty years ago and then walk away from it a few months later because the agreements don’t suit you, it affects your credibility.”


Make no mistake, that matters to us all

Emmanuel Macron


The French threaten countermeasures. If the issue is not resolved, British fishing boats will no longer be allowed into French ports to offload their cargo. If that happens, Britain’s Brexit Secretary Lord Frost, in turn, threatens to sue the European Union for violating the Brexit agreements.

The possibility of escalating tensions between the two countries was already clear earlier this year. In May, French fishermen closed the port of Saint Helier in Jersey, angering the fishing rights granted and additional terms imposed on the licence. In response, Britain sent two naval ships to Channel Island. A decision to which France responded by threatening to cut off the electricity to Jersey. The British island is located more than 20 kilometers from the French coast and depends on France for 95 percent of its electricity needs.

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A French fisherman catches his catch in the port of Le Guilvinec on the west coast of France.

A French fisherman catches his catch in the port of Le Guilvinec on the west coast of France. © Fred Tanno/AFP


A letter from French Prime Minister Jean Castix to officials in Brussels also caused chaos among the British. In the letter obtained by the BBC, Castex will call for it to “show that Brexit does more harm than membership” and that “agreements made are non-negotiable”.

Clément Bonn, Minister of State for European Affairs, also speaks strong language. “We were very patient and very patient,” Boone said. The British do not want to issue a certain number of permits. Not because they had no information, but because they made the political choice.”


Some managers are calling on both sides to remain calm. “This is about licensing about forty boats, it’s a drop in the ocean,” says Jean-Marc Boisesso, director of the ports of Calais and Boulogne. According to him, the owners could not provide clear evidence that they had fished in British waters before. Others bought new boats in the meantime. Puissesseau warns of the consequences if the Anglo-French feud gets out of hand. After that, fisheries in both countries and ports on both sides of the canal will suffer significant damage, according to the French driver.

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