Brexit: France detains British fishing boat as row intensifies

A fishing trawler - Stock Image
A fishing trawler - Stock Image
Steve Parsons
Gareth Milner

By Gareth Milner

Published: 28/10/2021

- 05:11

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:44

'The second did not have a licence to fish in our waters: diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority'

In a tweet on Thursday morning the French Minister for the Sea, Annick Girardin, said that two British ships were "fined" during classic checks off the coast of Le Havre on Wednesday.

"The first did not comply spontaneously: verbalization."

"The second did not have a licence to fish in our waters: diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority."

This turn of events marks a further escalation in the post-Brexit fishing dispute between the UK and France.

Only yesterday, Downing Street vowed to retaliate against France if Paris goes ahead with a “disappointing and disproportionate” threat to impose sanctions in an escalation of a row over fishing boats.

The French Government dramatically warned it will block British vessels from some ports next week if the post-Brexit dispute over fishing licences is not resolved.

French Sea Minister Annick Girardin
French Sea Minister Annick Girardin

Paris even went as far as suggesting it could restrict energy supplies to the Channel Islands if no deal is reached with the UK as relations since the EU departure further soured.

No 10 said the threats do not seem to be compatible with “international law” and vowed an “appropriate and calibrated response” if Paris does not back down.

France has been angered by a decision from the UK and Jersey last month to reject dozens of licences for French boats to fish in their waters, arguing it breaches the Brexit deal.

If an agreement over the licenses is not struck by Tuesday, France said it will block British boats from some ports and tighten checks on vessels travelling between France and the UK.

A joint statement from the French ministers for Europe and for maritime affairs added that they do not exclude measures targeting energy supplies to Britain in the coming weeks.

Brexit minister Lord Frost said: “It is very disappointing that France has felt it necessary to make threats late this evening against the UK fishing industry and seemingly traders more broadly.

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