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The messy fish problem waiting to hook Brexit

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on January 31, 2020 - Duration: 01:41s

The messy fish problem waiting to hook Brexit

When the UK leaves the European Union it will be able to decide which countries are allowed to fish in its waters.

What does that mean for the thousands of tonnes of British fish that currently passes through France's busiest port?

Adam Reed reports.

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The messy fish problem waiting to hook Brexit

For the British government, a successful Brexit means re-asserting economic sovereignty and securing a trade deal with Europe.

French fishermen could sink that plan.

5,000 people are currently employed in France's busiest fishing port, handling 400,000 tons of fish annually.

But, less than 10% is actually netted at the port - with fish, lobster, and shellfish caught from a host of other locations including several British ports.

Meaning, French fishermen earn the bulk of their income from fish caught in British waters.

So while Britain might hold the upper hand over access to its fishing grounds, its fishermen can ill-afford to turn their backs on Europe, said Aymeric Chrzan, head of a fishmonger union.

His message for Britain: (SOUNDBITE) (French) HEAD OF THE FISHMONGER UNION'S LOCAL BRANCH, AYMERIC CHRZAN, SAYING: "You fish, you keep your fish for yourself and prevent others from fishing?

But you've still got to make a living, add value, and trade." From Friday (January 31), Britain will say EU vessels like French trawlers no longer have automatic access to its waters.

Fisherman Maxime Fait: (SOUNDBITE) (French) 30-YEAR-OLD FRENCH FISHERMAN, MAXIME FAIT, SAYING: "I hope there's going to be common ground and agreements made because if that's not the case, it's the death of French fishermen, that's for sure," Britain's fish stocks will soon operate independently and officials feel a "rebalancing is needed." One European diplomat said the objective was to "maintain the status quo" on access to British waters, while the European Commission's official position is that there should be no free trade agreement without a fisheries accord.

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