July 24, 2019 / 7:03 AM / 3 months ago

French minister tells Boris Johnson: don't ban our fishermen from your waters

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s agriculture minister warned incoming British prime minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday against preventing French fishermen from fishing in British waters if Britain crashes out of the European Union without an exit deal later this year.

A British exit from the EU with no deal to smooth the process would automatically bar British boats from fishing in EU waters and EU boats from fishing off Britain. Brexit’s impact on fisheries is particularly important to France.

“It is possible that with Boris Johnson we will have a hard Brexit,” Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume told CNews.

“There is no scenario in which French fishermen should be prevented, could be prevented, would be prevented by Boris Johnson, from fishing in British waters.

“There is no reason for it. So I will keep telling Britain that our fishermen must be allowed to keep fishing in its waters,” he said.

Britain’s rich fishing waters are currently available to other EU states under mutual access arrangements with set quotas.

Even so, in past decades territorial clashes between British and French fishermen have flared sporadically, most recently last August when French vessels rammed British trawlers off the coast of Normandy in the so-called “Scallop Wars”.

Guillaume also said France would not ratify a provisional trade deal with the Mercosur group of South American countries in its current form.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Richard Lough; Editing by Catherine Evans

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