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Brexit Complicates Life for French Fishermen, Leaving Many Worried About Their Future

Source: NPR/Joanna Kakissis - September 14, 2017 in Politics

Brexit Complicates Life for French Fishermen, Leaving Many Worried About Their Future
Photo: Fanny Schertzer-Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

France’s busiest portBoulougne-sur-Mer, sits just across the English Channel from Britain, in the Calais region.

Seagulls glide above scores of brightly painted boats docking to unload the catch of the day — mainly sole but also cod, roussette, crab and scallops.

It’s all sold at a bustling seaside market where Marie-Laure Fontaine sells seafood from a fishing boat called Providence.

“Sole and cod and turbot, we get these all from British waters,” Fontaine says. “And this is a worry.”

Up to 80 percent of fish caught by fishermen here comes from British waters, which are about a two-hour boat ride away.

French fishermen have been nervous since Britain voted to leave the European Union last year. That’s because when the divorce is final, the U.K. will also leave what’s called the Common Fisheries Policy.

“After that, the U.K. will be an independent coastal state, like Norway or the Faroe Islands or Iceland,” says Barrie Deas, chief executive of the U.K.’s National Federation Fishermen’s Organisations. “The U.K. will determine its own fishing quotas and access arrangements. So I think it’s realistic for the French to be worried.”

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