Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023


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Macron’s fishing war backfires as French turn on leader: ‘Morale is low!’

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Fishermen, who have been waiting for almost a year for fishing licenses, are losing patience while waiting for the government to support them. Laurent Geoffrey, a fisherman who is still awaiting a licence, said: “We have already waited ten months for the state to be with us. We can’t wait any longer, because if we don’t fish, we don’t get paid.”

“I don’t want to change jobs, but I have to”, he added.

Another fisherman, Loic Fontaine said that “morale is gone.”

This comes after Mr Macron withdrew threats of UK sanctions earlier this week.

He had initially threatened to disrupt the flow of UK exports from Tuesday unless a deal was reached.

But on Monday, Mr Macron said: “Since this afternoon, discussions have resumed on the basis of a proposal I made to Prime Minister Johnson. The talks need to continue.”

“My understanding is that the British were going to come back to us tomorrow with other proposals.

“All that will be worked on. We’ll see where we are tomorrow at the end of the day, to see if things have really changed.”

MEP Catherine Grisset weighed in on the debate, saying that it is “essential” for the French government to “exert pressure” to save the industry.

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She tweeted: “France and the European Union have the means to exert pressure to obtain the necessary fishing licences. It is essential to save our fishermen and the fishing industry!”

Speaking about the struggle he has faced in his industry, Mr Fontaine said: “We have had losses for almost a year. Every month, we lose between 10,000 and 15,000 euros in cash flow. I’ll let you do the math.

“After a while, it’s no longer viable. On top of that, there is the increase in diesel fuel.

“The crew’s wages had to be cut. So the fisherman bitterly threw in the towel.”

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Before Brexit, Mr Fontaine was making 50% of his whelk catches in British waters before Brexit. But now limited to French waters, Mr Fontaine is losing money.

“I’ve done nothing else: I started when I was 19, I’m now 45”, he said.

“I don’t want to change jobs, but I’m forced to.

“I invested money, I took on board guys… With a hard blow like that, I don’t think that they still have the morale to do this job.”

“I am 45 years old, I have always done this job and my son is with me”, he added.

Mr Fontaine said he knows a dozen other fishermen who are also considering throwing in the towel.

Negotiations are due to continue over the next few days.

Brexit secretary Lord Frost will meet with European Commission vice-president, Maroš Šefčovič, in Brussels on Friday.

According to French outlet, Fraceinfo, an adviser said: “this will be the moment of truth. If nothing happens this time, we will have to act.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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