“The British have access to the European market, while we do not have access to British waters. This is not normal, the British government must respect the agreement.”

French fishing crews mounted “symbolic” protests at the Channel tunnel and three ports in northern France in a day of action against the British government over the ongoing dispute about access of French boats in the Channel.

The fishers lit red flares as they started their protest on Friday at the port of Saint-Malo before moving on to Calais and the Channel tunnel in the afternoon.

Half a dozen fishing vessels blocked access to Calais port, the main gateway to Europe from the UK, in a 90-minute protest, with similar protests mounted in the port of Ouistreham and access roads to the Channel tunnel.

“We want our licences back,” read an English-language banner brandished on one of the boats, the Marmouset II.

Friday’s blockades did not bring traffic to a halt but were designed as “a warning shot” against the British, said Olivier Lepretre, the president of the regional fishing committee in Calais.

He added that it was “a symbolic action” but if the dispute over what they say is the UK’s failure to issue the French their full complement of fishing licences continues, they will escalate their actions and “show more teeth.”

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