We have no fish left in our waters French fisherman vows to react unless granted licence

French fisherman supports retaliation over fishing row

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During an extraordinary lashing out at Brexit Britain, frustrated fisherman Laurent Merlin told News on Sunday that himself and other colleagues will have no choice but to take action against Britain if he is barred from fishing in UK waters, in line with a new post-Brexit deal on boat licences. But he did not confirm what action he would in fact take against Britain.

Furious at the situation, Mr Merlin slammed: “It is frustrating because it’s now been 10 months that we’ve been waiting.

“If we get nothing, we will have to react!”

He insisted that if French fishermen do not take action on the licensing chaos he won’t be able to continue working on his boat.

He added how French waters have been “overfished” as he complained “there are no fish there”.

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Instead he demanded that he be allowed into UK waters instead to make his living.

But such a move requires a new licence, which in turn is granted only if a boat can prove it has fished UK waters before Brexit. 

The comments follow months of chaos in Britain’s waters following a post-Brexit agreement that stated the French must apply for new licences in order to continue to fish in the 6-to-12 nautical-mile zone of UK waters.

France accused Britain of not following their side of the deal, arguing they had not been handed the agreed number of boat licences.

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Britain has continually denied that it has not been playing fairly.

Despite claims by the French, UK fishing licensing bodies insisted a raft of French fishing boats have not correctly submit the evidence required to prove they have fished in British waters before Brexit.

The chaos even led Jersey Home Affairs Minister Gregory Guida to accuse some French fisherman of “trying their luck” in a coordinated scam to get fishing licences, despite never having fished in UK waters before.

The backlash to the licences sparked a wide range of threats from French President Emmanuel Macron and culminated in a British fishing vessel, the Cornelis Gert Jan, owned by McDuff Shelfish, being seized by the French coastguard – the vessel and its skipper were released on Wednesday.

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Relations were partly restored last week when Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to hand France a further 100 fishing licences to calm the row.

While Mr Macron retracted threats to bloc UK boats landing their catch in French ports – a move that could have collapsed the UK fishing industry.

But ongoing discussions to bring an end to the chaos were thwarted yet again on Thursday as talks ended in a stalemate over the future of the post-Brexit fishing deal.

It came after Brexit minister Lord David Frost spent around 90 minutes meeting France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune. Further talks to solve the fishing row are due to continue next week.

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