Fishing rights continue to be a hot button issue in the Brexit trade talks with just a month left until the transition period expires.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex travelled to the north of the country to speak with people who work in fisheries on Thursday, who said a plan for fishing would not be “sacrificed”.
“We obviously hope to get a deal under the best conditions possible, but not just any conditions. And certainly not under conditions where fishing would be sacrificed as a variable,” Castex said, announcing a government-backed plan in support of the French fishing industry.
Many professionals are worried that without a deal, they will be prevented from fishing in British waters.
Olivier Leprêtre, from the Regional Fisheries Committee, told Castex that “there must be a deal, if there is no deal, whether it’s regional fisheries or the local fleet, it would mean a certain death.”
“If we are in French waters, we will find ourselves with Belgians, Dutch, Spaniards, so there will be an overexploitation of resources. We must not overexploit the resource.”
He has warned that on both sides of the channel, a no-deal would have a large impact.
Xavier Leduc, the president of the Union of Fishing Boat Owners, said if they don’t know what the quotas are on January 1, they would be strongly impacted.
But, he said: “It might be better to have a temporary no-deal than have a bad deal that will hinder us for decades.”
The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy provides for quota sharing and access rights for member states.
But in the UK, fishing rights represent a symbol of sovereignty with the UK becoming an independent coastal state. The UK is aiming to reduce access for European boats.
Earlier this week UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said fishing rights were a main obstacle among a “fairly narrow” set of issues to resolve. He said the UK wanted control over its fishing grounds.
Meanwhile, people in Kent say they do not know what to expect on January 1.
“If you know what Brexit’s about, you’re a lot more informed than we are,” said Kent resident Susan Swandale.
“The problem that we have is that we don’t know what Brexit means, we don’t know what’s going to happen, we don’t know how many trucks are going to be having to be stopped here, we don’t how many trucks are going to be queued,” she continued.
For many, the clock on negotiations that could clarify how it will work appears to be running out.