French processors warn of job losses in event of trade war with UK

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French fish processors warn that up to 1,500 jobs in Boulogne could be at risk in the event of a trade war with the UK.

This week, a bust up over French rights to fish in UK waters has seen Paris threatening to ban British trawlers from unloading in French ports, carry out extra licence checks on boats, reinforce customs and hygiene controls, and to tighten checks on trucks.

Now, French processing companies are warning that the hard line taken by the French Government at the behest of its fishing communities will cost jobs.

Aymeric Chrzan Head of the fish wholesale association in Boulogne, France’s largest fishing port, told French radio the planned measures were “excessive” and “disproportionate”, stating that the measures risked doing more harm to the overall sector than good, and adding that France imported more seafood from the UK than is sold in French fish markets.

“Our processing businesses absolutely need British products, which represent about 25-30 per cent of our deliveries,” Chrzan said, warning that up to 1,500 fish and seafood sector jobs out of a total of 5,000 in Boulogne could be at risk.

“The stakes are high for the whole fisheries sector – not just the wholesalers but the processing and salting companies.”

Chrzan said the sanctions would lead to “delays at the very least. Since we work with fresh fish and just-in-time deliveries, any hold-ups can be catastrophic.”

Arnaud Delegorge, managing director of processing company, Marine SAS, told TV station, FranceInfo that his firm processed 7,000 tonnes of Scottish salmon each year.

“Of course we will suffer if the planned sanctions are implemented,” he said. “If we stop British fish entering the French market we will really be shooting ourselves in the foot – we’re talking thousands of jobs here.”