Lone French fisherman left adrift in fishing spat between UK and France

0

French fisherman Herman Outrequin, who does not have a license to fish in British waters, checks his trawler before going fishing, in the port of Granville, Normandy, on Wednesday, November 3, 2021. Outrequin has given up his job fishing company and went independent in 2019 to have more time for her newborn son.  But he had not counted with the post-Brexit spat on fishing rights between Paris and London.  (AP Photo / Jeremias Gonzalez)

French fisherman Herman Outrequin, who does not have a license to fish in British waters, checks his trawler before going fishing, in the port of Granville, Normandy, on Wednesday, November 3, 2021. Outrequin has given up his job fishing company and went independent in 2019 to have more time for her newborn son. But he had not counted with the post-Brexit spat on fishing rights between Paris and London. (AP Photo / Jeremias Gonzalez)

PA

Future father Hermann Outrequin felt optimistic in 2019 when he gave up his job at a 16-year-old fishing company to become self-employed. The Norman fisherman wanted a new start to have time for his newborn son.

But now a political row over fishing rights between Paris and London has cast cold water on his plans.

Looking across the cold Channel to the Granville coast in the pre-dawn darkness, Outrequin says he regrets the decision and worries about his future.

The 43-year-old has just been denied another fishing license in UK waters, which make up a third of his usual fishing grounds and are among the richest.

“So I don’t have a license. I no longer have the right. The British have turned their backs on us, ”he said.

The very large British licenses are at the center of the dispute following Britain’s split from the European Union earlier this year. Before Brexit, French fishermen could fish deep in British waters. Now they have to get a special license from the UK government or the UK Crown Autonomous Dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey to fish in certain areas.

Fishing is a small industry economically, but one which occupies a symbolically important place for Great Britain and France, which have long and dear maritime traditions.

Paris says many ships have been denied permits for the waters where they have been sailing for a long time. Britain says it has granted 98% of requests from EU ships – and now the dispute only concerns a few dozen French boats with insufficient papers.

France has threatened to deny British ships access to some of its ports and to tighten controls on ships and trucks carrying British goods if more French vessels are not allowed to fish in British waters soon. Paris also suggested that it could restrict energy supplies to the Channel Islands, which are heavily dependent on French electricity.

If the dispute threatened cross-Channel relations, it also has real consequences for the ordinary little-known fishermen in France.

“I’m not asking for the moon,” said Outrequin, zipped into a thermal jacket as he prepared to go out fishing for scallops.

Outrequin was the regular story of a future father. The reassuring job of fisherman he had held since 2003 at Abeilles International, a subsidiary of Groupe Bourbon, required him to be absent for a long time. He and his wife Marielis decided that he should be back in the evening to help his newborn baby, Paul. So he gave up job protection with the industry giant in 2019 to buy his own boat called the Santa Clara and go it alone.

But new documents needed for the post-Brexit seascape have put a wrench into the work. He now regrets having made this decision.

Outrequin said authorities in the Channel Islands which grant licenses in its fishing area now require fishermen to prove that they have fished at least 11 days per year in their waters between 2017 and 2020.

But as the company d’Outrequin did not exist for half of this period, it can in no way benefit from it.

Jersey, which is only 14 miles from the French coast, issued 49 temporary permits to French boats at the start of the week. But that is only a fraction of those still unlicensed.

Pointing out a map of the English Channel, Outrequin expresses his frustration. “We used to go fishing here, but now it’s over. This whole part here, finished.

Many fishermen in northern France say their livelihoods depend on access to British waters, where they hunt mackerel, whiting, squid and other species. Outrequin is discouraged by the future and puts hope in French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron is expected to be re-elected in the April presidential vote in France and will likely want to project an image of strength and consistency before that.

“The problem is,” Outrequin said, “will Macron really do something? He has to do something.

Share.

Leave A Reply