The French government’s decision to allow British vessels to sell their catches in Breton fish markets has provoked outrage among right-wing politicians, who accuse Brussels and President Emmanuel Macron of colluding in the disappearance of the small-scale fishing industry.
French MEP France Jamet has criticised the move, which is backed by the EU, warning that it will put French fishermen at a disadvantage as British products are much cheaper.
She also accused the government of prioritising the scrapping of vessels over the sustainability of the industry.
The move is expected to cause a significant loss of jobs, particularly in the small-scale fishing port of Guilvinec, where it is estimated that 125 sailors and 800 indirect jobs will be affected.
Jamet has called for a policy of economic patriotism, which would encourage local consumption and lower taxes on energy in order to support the industry.
The controversy has led to calls for France to take back control of its waters and negotiate a bilateral deal with the UK on fishing.
However, the exclusive competence of the EU on fishing means that any such deal would be difficult to negotiate.
Some commentators have suggested that the EU’s handling of the issue reflects its tendency to concentrate power in Brussels, rather than devolving it to member states.
In the meantime, many trawler owners are expected to accept Macron’s offer to destroy their boats and refrain from buying new ones for at least five years in exchange for a payout from the government.
Source: ‘Our fish first!’ Post-Brexit fisheries deal signed by Macron sparks furious Frexit calls