EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has demanded that the UK keep waters open to European vessels so that fishermen in Europe can still benefit from British fishing grounds. This has caused a deadlock however, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take more control of UK waters post-Brexit. One man who has also become a prominent player in the negotiations is French President Emmanuel Macron, who has warned he will protect his fishermen and ensure they are not heavily impacted by Brexit.
If the French are cut off from UK waters, it could have devastating impacts on the country’s coastal communities.
France caught 120,000 tonnes of fish worth £171million (€192million) between 2012 and 2016, according to Marine Management Organisation figures.
Many of its fishermen are concerned, but Frederic Cuvillier, Mayor of Boulogne, told DW earlier this month that both sides need a deal.
He said: “We trust the British. On both sides we have to save jobs and find a solution so we can both survive.
“They have the fish, but we have the market.
“We have the internal market with a few hundred million consumers. Should we put all this into question? We have managed to work together for decades.”
Pierre Karleskind, chair of the parliamentary committee on fisheries, made a similar statement in 2019.
He said: “When it comes to fisheries, the closer [to the current situation] it is, the better it is for us.
“It is really important to bear in mind that the UK has fish, but Europe has the market.”
Another prominent figure in France’s fishing industry, Jean-Paul Mulot, told BBC Hardtalk earlier this year that ports could be blocked if a deal isn’t reached.
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The MP for North West Leicestershire said: “It’s like someone renting a property off you, terminating the agreement, and then demanding they keep 80 percent of the back garden.
“Who is going to agree to that? That’s not how it works. It’s absurd.
“There is no court in the world the EU could go to that would uphold their right to keep our sovereign fishing grounds after the EU.”