Brexit – French fishermen threaten Britain with 'Falklands on your doorstep' over fishing access

BRITAIN has been warned of a "Falklands War on its doorstep" as negotiations continue over what access French and other European boats should have to British fishing waters after Brexit.

It comes after Boris Johnson last week vowed to deploy the Royal Navy to protect British waters in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Fishing has been a key sticking point throughout the Brexit negotiations.

The UK wants the quotas for British and European boats fishing in British waters to be updated in a way that would increase the British catch, but the EU has resisted the changes.

On Monday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Navy would be used to intercept EU vessels and protect British boats “going about their lawful business” in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

Speaking to the Telegraph following the comments, Frédéric Cuvillier, mayor of the French port town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, said: "Do you really want a Falklands war on your doorstep in Guernsey or Jersey?

“Talk of gunboats may flatter the jingoistic ego on either side of the Channel but it will not help us reach a deal."

The dispute comes just weeks after a resurgence of the so-called Scallop War between British and French fishermen.

On October 13, two British boats were in the Baie de Seine, near the 12-mile French territorial limit, when they were surrounded by 20 French vessels and pelted with flares, oil, and frying pans.

Tensions have often arisen in the Channel stemming from the fact British scallop fishers are allowed to operate the year round, while French scallop fishers are not allowed to fish between May 15 and October 1.

In August 2018, around 35 French boats tried to stop a number of British vessels fishing for scallops off the Normandy coast.

Three British trawlers were damaged after stones, petrol bombs, and rocket flares were thrown at them.

In October 2012, around 40 French boats surrounded five British boats and began ramming and throwing rocks at them in an attempt to damage their propellers and engines.

The French fishermen later said the British boats had been within the Common Fisheries Policy exclusion zone, though the British fishermen denied the claim.


Speaking to the Telegraph, one French fishermen, Loic Merlin, 33, also warned of conflicts between French boats and those from other EU member states in the event they are excluded from British waters.

“If they really go through with it, it’ll be game over for us," he said.

“The Dutch and the Belgians will have to leave [UK water] too and everyone will comer over here.

"The sea will be too small for us all. It'll be war."

The fraught Brexit negotiations have also evoked memories of the Cod Wars, a series of diplomatic and maritime altercations between Britain, with the backing of West Germany, and Iceland in the mid 20th century.

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The disputes arose between 1958 and 1976 as Iceland passed a succession of laws expanding its own fishery zone.

They saw the British Navy deployed to protect British vessels engaged in long-distancing fishing, and brought a series of clashes between fishing and naval boats on either side.

Iceland ultimately achieved its aims, and by the end of the disputes its fishery zone, which had initially ended four nautical miles off its coast, extended 200 miles.

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