Fishing row: French fishermen blame Brexit and politicians amid escalating row with UK

A fishing trawler leaves the harbour in Portsmouth, Hampshire.
A fishing trawler leaves the harbour in Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Steve Parsons
Sophia Miller

By Sophia Miller

Published: 29/10/2021

- 12:35

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:45

French fishermen have blamed politicians for the intensifying row between the UK and France over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Fishermen in France’s biggest fishing port have said Brexit is a “big problem” and blamed politicians for the escalating row with the UK.

In Boulogne-sur-Mer, on the northern French coast, fishing is a huge part of day-to-day life.

But some of the fleet have found themselves unable to fish in British waters following Brexit, locals say.

A diplomatic row has broken out between the UK and France over fishing rights, with Britain warning of retaliation if Paris goes ahead with threats to block British boats from some ports.

Speaking to the PA news agency in Boulogne, fisherman Kurt Bigot said he was angry about the situation.

As he worked aboard the French-flagged fishing boat Mere du Christ, Mr Bigot pointed to other boats in the harbour that had been refused new licences to fish in UK waters.

“It’s a big problem,” he added.

Fishermen in the port were seen cleaning nets laid out on the quayside and working on their boats, while politicians in London and Paris continue to trade barbs over fishing licences.

Mr Bigot’s crewmate aboard the 60ft Mere du Christ agreed with him, pointing the blame at politicians.

Pierre Hagnere smiled as he showed off a Manchester United tattoo on his arm, taking a pause from cleaning nets aboard the fishing vessel.

He told PA: “There’s good friendship between England and France, good (between) fishermen.

“But politics (between) France and England – bad”.

The Mere du Christ was among boats moored up in Boulogne harbour after spending several hours fishing for mackerel and other catch 10 miles off the French coast.

The biggest fishing port in France, the city features a famed daily auction where wholesalers, fishmongers and restaurant owners from all over France and even abroad can bid on the day’s choicest catch.

Meanwhile, along the edge of the port, bustling stalls sell fresh fish directly to members of the public.

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