British Fishermen Ground Down By Fishing Row With France

British fishermen ground down by fishing row with France

Newhaven, United Kingdom, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 29th Oct, 2021 ) :As a row over post-Brexit fishing rights between Britain and France escalated on Thursday, British fishermen complained they were being worn down as their livelihoods were forgotten during the standoff.

In Newhaven on Britain's southern coast, the fishing town's main quay was almost deserted as a week of bad weather forced the local fleet, comprised of small trawlers, to remain in harbour.

But amid threats from Paris to target British fish exports, the detention of a UK vessel and Britain summoning the French ambassador, trawler captains attending to their boats complained they would continue to bear the brunt of the spat.

Neil Whitney, the skipper of the "About Time" trawler, told AFP the dispute over licensing rules for boats to operate in waters around Britain and the Channel Islands, was "political" and dismissed the escalation as "more of the same".

"The scallopers try and push the envelope a little bit more, get in a bit earlier," the 54-year-old explained.

"And the French retaliate by throwing things at us or impounding boats or just jumping up and down." The head of Britain's National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO) has laid blame for the worsening standoff on France, accusing Paris of politicising the problem.

"France seems determined to escalate the issue. The only way we can make sense of it is that this technical issue has been politicised ahead of the French presidential elections," NFFO Chief Executive Barrie Deas said.

"Talks that have been going on are perfectly civil and constructive, both with EU and France. So the issue doesn't lie at that technical level." - 'There's no fish left' - For the British fishermen, the dispute over fishing rights is another threat to their industry compounded by falling post-Brexit exports, constraints because of Covid and the growth of international fishing companies that are crowding out independent operators like those in Newhaven.

"We've been ground down and down," fishing skipper Martin Yorwarth told AFP.

"We ask our government and the (EU) commission to help artisanal fishermen... We desperately need some help." Yorwarth said disagreements would persist until the root problem of overfishing was addressed.

"The reality is overfishing is massive. There's no fish left... the French are hurting we are hurting", he explained.

Both Yorwarth and Whitney, like most members of Britain's fishing communities, voted for Brexit but feel the trade agreement that coincided with the UK's departure from the bloc failed to deliver on promises made to their industry.

"If we'd taken back control of our waters and taking back control of our fishing, then things could have been different," Whitney said.

"We were really disappointed."