France offers fishermen aid after Brexit trade deal

Former minister of overseas territories and new French minister of the Sea Annick Girardin holds the bar electric pinnace, which is used for fishing and oyster farming at Arcachon near Bordeaux, France, 17 July 2020. [Caroline Blumberg/EPA/EFE]

The French government on Thursday (24 December) announced measures to support fishermen and fishmongers, including up to €30,000 in individual aid, after the European Union and the UK reached a post-Brexit trade agreement.

Access to Britain’s rich fishing waters was a major sticking point in the post-Brexit talks, and the deal sees EU fishing vessels steadily give up part of current quotas.

“Fishermen and wholesalers will be able to benefit from a flat-rate aid of up to €30,000 depending on their dependence on products caught in British waters,” the French fisheries ministry said in a statement.

“The government will soon present its complete plan to support French fishermen,” Minister Annick Girardin said.

The plan provides for compensation over a limited period for part of the turnover losses of companies dependent on British waters.

Other measures include investment aid under a recovery plan and “fleet exit plan” will be available for vessels dependent on British waters that want to stop activity.

Britain had insisted it wanted to take back full control of its waters while EU coastal states sought guarantees their fleets could keep fishing in UK waters.

The two sides reached a compromise that will see European boats gradually relinquish 25% of their current quotas during a five-and-a-half year transition period.

After that there will be annual negotiations on the amount of fish EU vessels can take from British waters — and if Brussels is not satisfied it can impose economic measures against the UK.

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