French fishermen blocked entry to the Channel tunnel on Friday as part of a campaign to ratchet up pressure on the UK government to grant licences for boats fishing in British waters, La Voix du Nord reported.

Protests lasting several hours are being seen as a "warning shot" to the UK government as fishermen look to show they mean business.

Around 100 fishermen in 30 vans travelled from Boulogne-sur-Mer towards Calais under police escort.

Earlier fishermen blocked the port of Saint-Malo northwest France on Friday, hours before other similar planned actions at Ouistreham and Calais with the aim of preventing Channel tunnel freight from entering France from the United Kingdom, The Times reported.

Fishing boats were expected to attempt to halt ferry traffic at French ports, and entrances to the freight terminal at the Channel tunnel for several hours.

Protestors may also try to block traffic on the A16 motorway near Calais leading to the port and the tunnel.

The fight over the number of fishing licenses granted to French fishing boats operating in British waters is a symbolic issue on both sides of the English Channel.

It erupted almost as soon as the United Kingdom's left the European Union's orbit at the end of 2020.

Since Jan. 1 France has received 960 licences to fish in UK waters and the Channel Islands including Jersey and Guernsey but the French industry highlights a shortfall of 150 licences, while the UK government estimates that it has granted 98 percent of licences requested, Le Parisien reports.

Mareyage Boulonnais, the trade group representing primary processors in Boulogne-sur-Mer, continental Europe's largest seafood hub with an annual production of 130,000 metric tons annually, opposes a blockade by French fishermen of seafood products entering French ports, arguing that it would be counter-productive.

The stepping up of the row over fishing rights comes amid simmering tensions in Anglo-French relations with both sides blaming each other following the death of 27 migrants in the English Channel heading for the United Kingdom.