No-deal Brexit could bring export blockades, warn French

French fishermen have warned the United Kingdom that they will halt marine traffic from the United Kingdom inbound to France via the English Channel by denying access to the port of Calais if they are not permitted to fish in U.K. waters following a no-deal Brexit.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, E.U. fisherman will be banned from British waters, unless the U.K. government decides to grant access. The U.K. press has reported that fishermen in northern France would respond to a ban with a blockade.

Such a move would create chaos for all goods passing between Calais and Dover, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.

“If there is a hard Brexit, I can assure you that not a single kilo of seafood or fish from Britain will get into France," Olivier Leprêtre, chairman of the regional fisheries committee in northern France, told The Times. “We would set up barricades. All the fishermen along the northern French coast will tell you the same thing."

It wouldn’t be the first time that French fishermen blocked Calais in protest. Last year, fishing trawlers brought Calais to a standstill over electric pulse fishing in the North Sea. 

Leprêtre fears that if E.U. trawlers were to be banned from U.K. waters after Brexit, France would find Belgian, Dutch, and Spanish boats crammed into its waters. At the same time, U.K. scallop fishermen would be barred from French territory. 

The United Kingdom is due to leave the E.U. on 31 October. It will also leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that states the E.U.'s shared rules about how much fish countries can catch and where, and become an independent coastal state.

In 2016, the United Kingdom exported GBP 1.17 billion (USD 1.4 billion, EUR 1.3 billion) worth of seafood to the E.U., and imported products valued at GBP 1.04 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.1 billion) from the bloc. France, Spain, and the Netherlands are among the country’s most important seafood markets.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Nigel Wiggins


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