Fishermen blocked access into the Channel tunnel from the French side in a protest expected to last around two hours after earlier using their boats to block access to the northern port of Calais for ferries.
French fishing crews have temporarily blocked French ports and ferry traffic across the English Channel to disrupt the flow of goods to the UK.
The fishers are protesting to “respond to the derisive and humiliating attitude of the English,” Gerard Romiti, president of the French fishing committee, told reporters on Friday.
“We don’t want handouts, we just want our licenses back. The UK must abide by the post-Brexit deal. Too many fishermen are still on the sidelines, ” he added.
Fishing crews blocked access to the port of Saint-Malo from 0800-0900 GMT, but that blockade, now over, has passed the relay to Calais and Ouistreham, where the protest is continuing.
Meanwhile, protesters are gearing up on Friday afternoon to block access to the freight terminal of the Channel Tunnel, the highway leading from France to Britain.
In the port of Calais, a blockade of ferries began at noon (1100 GMT), stopping ferries that provide links with the UK. Six fishing boats from the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer blocked access to the Calais port, in a short but impactful 90-minute operation.
“The British have access to the European market, while we do not have access to British waters", Olivier Lepretre, president of the regional fishing committee, told reporters in Calais.
“This is a symbolic action but if it continues we will show more teeth,” Lepretre added, in quotes given to French media.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. was “disappointed by threats of protest activity.”
French fishermen are angry at the British government for not granting more licenses to fish in UK waters – and angry at their own government for not doing more to defend them.
The fishing industry is economically tiny but symbolically important for both Britain and France.
Before Brexit, French fishermen could fish deep inside British waters. Now they need to be granted a special license from British authorities to fish in certain areas.
Most French boats have received special licenses. Now the dispute boils down to just a few dozen French licenses that have not been granted by the UK.
Last week in Brittany, French Sea Minister Annick Girardin announced that she was working on a compensation plan for fishermen who fail to obtain a license and who would have to cease their activity. But it left the French fisheries committees cold.