French fishermen to block ports and tunnel in dispute with UK

French fishermen to block ports and tunnel in dispute with UK

The fishing industry is economically tiny but symbolically important for both Britain and France. Friday’s threatened blockades are “a warning shot,” Olivier Lepretre, president of the regional fishing committee, told reporters.

It’s the latest tension point between the neighboring countries, who are also trading blame for not doing enough to prevent the deaths of at least 27 migrants whose boat sank Wednesday off Calais, in the choppy waters of the world’s busiest shipping route. French fishermen are angry at the British government for not granting more licenses to fish in U.K. waters — and angry at their own government for not doing more to defend them. Fishing crews are expected to use their boats to block ports in Calais, Saint-Malo and Ouistreham, and to use cars to block the highway leading to the tunnel beneath the Channel.

The fishers are protesting to “respond to the derisive and humiliating attitude of the English,” Gerard Romiti, president of the national fishing committee, told reporters. A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. was “disappointed by threats of protest activity.”

Before Brexit, French fishermen could fish deep inside British waters. Now they need to be granted a special license from British authorities to fish in certain areas. Most French boats have received the special licenses, but not all.

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