“It means it’s the end” : French fishermen expressed their anger Thursday, November 19 after the Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, mentioned a compensation plan for those who could no longer work because of Brexit.
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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 to destroy ships” while negotiations continue with London. But also in French ports whose activity depends largely on British waters. “The defeat, it was predictable (…). It’s a fiasco ”, reacted Pascal Delacour, boss of a trawler from Granville (Manche), opposite Jersey. “France has lowered its pants and abandoned its young sailors because it is above all they who do not have licenses. “
For fishermen, “the government drops the flag”
Annick Girardin clarified that“An envelope of 40 to 60 million euros” could be able “To be put on the table”, supplemented by European funds intended to support the consequences of Brexit, in order to compensate fishermen whose vessels cannot be taken back and will end up being scrapped.
“The government is disarmed. The plan to exit the fleet is the ax. It means it’s the end. The government is lowering its flag, although it had promised retaliatory measures ”, criticizes the president of the Hauts-de-France regional fisheries committee, Olivier Leprêtre.
Faced with the outcry, the minister spent an hour at the end of the day with the professionals. The “Government priority is to obtain licenses”, corn “This does not prevent predicting the future of the industry”, including by compensating those who remain at the dock, she insisted.
France is asking for another 150 licenses
She conceded that her morning speech may have given some the impression that France “Lowered his arms”, but assured that she “Will continue to fight alongside the fishermen so that no one remains on 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 have previously fished there.
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But the French and the British argue over the nature and extent of the supporting documents to be provided. In areas still disputed, the governments of London and the Channel Islands have so far granted nearly 220 permanent licenses. France is still asking for some 150 licenses (against 170 a month ago), according to an AFP count.