‘What does Macron do?!’ French fury as fishermen left without UK fishing licences

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The French President was lambasted by the Conservative Xavier Bertrand over his failure to keep a crucial promise to French fishermen since Brexit officially prevented them from fishing in UK waters.

The French politician who won the first round of regional elections in the region of Hauts de France, claimed almost a hundred fishing boats have been left without the post-Brexit paperwork necessary to fish in British waters.

He blasted: “Nearly a hundred boats from Hauts De France can no longer go fishing in UK waters because they do not have the necessary licences since Brexit.

“They were promised in January! What does the government do?!”

Speaking at a rally after the election, he continued: “We will protect our fishermen. Regarding the problem of fishing licences, we have people who were fishing in UK waters (6 to 12 miles zone) and today with Brexit they still haven’t got the licenses to fish.

“There are almost a hundred boats that cannot go fishing in British waters.

“I think the British are reluctant. And the European Commission and the government are not keeping their promises either.

“In January, two ministers came to see the fishermen and tell them that all the licences would arrive in a few days.

“Six months later, they still can’t fish.

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“Do you think that’s normal? We must make this matter a priority. It’s always like that in France.

“If you don’t put pressure and show some anger, you don’t get the government to keep its promises and solve the problem.”

The UK took back control of its waters after Brexit and EU vessels now have to apply for a licence.

French fishermen must now prove they have previously operated in UK waters through GPS data, however many do not have such technology.

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Mr Bertrand said French vessels were given assurances back in January that things would be sorted in a couple of days.

The UK left the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and now manages its own territorial waters.

The area comprises up to 12 nautical miles from the shores of Britain and the Exclusive Economic Zone, which stretches 200 nautical miles.

The UK Single Issuing Authority (SIA) has been set up to issue licences to both UK and non-UK vessels authorising access to UK waters to fish.

As part of the Brexit trade deal signed in December, EU fishing quotas will be reduced by 25 percent over the next five years.

Last week, the first annual quotas for 70 fishing stocks were negotiated with Brussels.

The new deal is estimated to be worth an additional £27million to the UK economy, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The total value UK-EU fishing opportunities for the UK in 2021 is approximately £333million, which is around 160,000 tonnes.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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