Mon. Nov 28th, 2022


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‘Not our problem!’ UK should not compensate French fishermen over Brexit fisheries deal

3 min read

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Speaking to, Elspeth Macdonald claimed old injustices suffered by the British fishing community with the introduction of the EU’s Common Fishing Policy should be revendicated with a new fisheries deal that will see the UK regaining full control of its waters. Ms Macdonald, who believes a no deal Brexit scenario would be far more detrimental to EU fishermen than UK ones, claimed international laws on fishing would allow the UK to decide who comes in and out of its waters. 

Asked whether the UK should compensate French fishermen in the event of no deal, she said: “Well, I think that the EU are already making provision for compensating parts of their industries that might be affected.

“So, you know, I think it would be more, I initially considered that it would be more for the EU than the UK.”

The UK Government has argued that fishing agreements should be separate to the trade deal with access negotiated annually, as Norway does, but the EU wants unfettered access for the next ten years.

What’s more, the French government has threatened to veto a trade deal unless concessions are made on the British side.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has been particularly firm on the issue after decades of tension over access to fishing waters between the UK and France, and concerns that Brexit could decimate the French fishing industry.

The dispute over fishing harks back to the Cod Wars of the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, during which the Royal Navy had to send warships to protect its fishing boats.

After one incident in the early Eighties, when a naval officer found evidence of illegal activity on a French boat, things escalated at an alarming rate.

Documents unearthed by at the National Archives revealed that Lieutenant Simon Hambrook, from Balderton, boarded a French trawler in the North Sea in July 1981.

He found evidence to suggest the trawler had been using illegal nets and HMS Alderney was ordered to escort the vessel to Grimsby.

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However, three French fisherman on board ‒ trawlerman France Babary, his shipmate Pierre Boulet and skipper Jean Blanpain of Equihen near Boulogne ‒ were furious.

After the boat was towed, Mr Barbary assaulted the officer and threatened to hang him, a court heard.

Both Mr Barbary and Mr Boulet also assaulted Sub-Lieutenant Christopher Taylor.

An article in the Advertiser on July 17, 1981, read: “A French trawlerman threatened to hang a Newark naval officer from the yard-arm when his vessel was taken in tow by a Royal Navy fisheries protection vehicle.

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“And the Frenchman, France Barbary, assaulted Lieutenant Simon Hambrook, 28, who had led the boarding party from HMS Alderney, Grimsby Magistrates were told last week.”

The skipper, Mr Blanpain, reportedly tried to make a dash for it, but later gave up his ship after a collision with HMS Alderney.

The three of them appeared before Grimsby Magistrates’ Court and Mr Blanpain admitted to using undersized nets and was fined the maximum £1000.

French fishermen have now vowed to blockade Dover and Calais if there is no post-Brexit trade deal struck between the UK and the EU.

Trawlermen said they would respond to being denied access to UK waters by impeding vital ferry routes carrying goods from entering major UK ports.

Dimitri Rogoff, president of Normandy’s regional fisheries committee, told radio station France Info: “If we are deprived of our fishing grounds, we will not watch the British supply the French market.

“There will therefore be blockages to ferries since this mainly happens by ferries. And on that, we are quite clear and determined.”

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