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French fishermen to block Channel Tunnel, Calais port on Friday

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November 25, 2021

PARIS (Reuters) – French fishermen plan to block the Channel Tunnel and the port of Calais on Friday in protest at Britain’s failure to issue them with more fishing licences since Brexit.

Members of the fishermen’s association told an online news conference on Thursday that a large number of vehicles would be used to block the Channel Tunnel, which is used to ship goods by rail between Britain and France.

London and Paris are at loggerheads over the number of licences Britain has allocated to French boats to allow them to fish in British waters since Britain left the European Union.

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France – and its fishermen – say many more licences should have been allocated and that patience is wearing thin. Britain says it is respecting the post-Brexit arrangements.

“This is our demonstration of the quality and ability of professional fishermen to mobilise in response to the UK’s provocative, contemptuous and humiliating attitude towards them,” said Gerard Romiti, President of National Maritime Fisheries Committee.

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French fishermen have previously taken matters into their own hands. In April, they blocked trucks carrying fish from British waters to processing centres in France.

In May, the British navy dispatched two patrol boats when French boats blockaded the Saint Helier harbour in Jersey.

“We are disappointed by threats of protest activity,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Thursday. “It obviously will be a matter for the French to ensure that there are no illegal actions and that trade is not affected but we continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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France and Britain have also criticised each other over the deaths of 27 migrants who drowned when they attempted to cross the Channel in an inflatable dinghy on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris and Kulie MacLellan in London; Writing by Ingrid Melander, Editing by Timothy Heritage, William Maclean)

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