France seizes British trawler as post-Brexit fishing row spirals

france seizes british trawler as post brexit fishing row spirals

France has seized one British trawler for operating in its territorial waters without a licence and fined another as a bitter dispute with the United Kingdom over post-Brexit access to fishing grounds escalates.

The French maritime ministry said the ships were cautioned during checks by maritime police on fishing vessels off the northern port of Le Havre overnight on Wednesday, hours after Paris warned it needed to “speak the language of strength” with London amid the smouldering row and warned of impending sanctions.

The seized trawler, now under the control of French judicial authorities, did not have proof it was allowed to fish in French waters, the maritime ministry said.

It was subsequently rerouted to Le Havre and was tied up at the port’s quayside. The boat’s captain could now face criminal charges and its catch may be confiscated.

The other boat was fined for initially resisting a check by the maritime police.

British Interior Minister, Priti Patel described the seizure as “disappointing” as Environment Minister, George Eustice called for calm.

Eustice told the British Parliament that he had spoken to European Union Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevicius and stressed it was important to “de-escalate” the situation.

The incidents came after France threatened to take retaliatory measures from next week over what it says is the UK’s refusal to grant its fishermen the full number of licences to operate inside British waters that Paris claims is warranted.

The UK and the Channel Island of Jersey last month denied dozens of French trawlers the right to fish in their territorial waters, saying they did not supply evidence to support their applications to do so.

France says the restrictions are contrary to the post-Brexit agreement that London signed in December 2020, eleven months after it formally left the EU on January 31 last year.

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