The Cornelius Gert Jan one of two UK-registered trawlers detained overnight by French authorities as fishing licences dispute escalates

The Cornelius Gert Jan one of two UK-registered trawlers detained overnight by French authorities as fishing licences dispute escalates

France has said that is stepping-up its actions against the UK and will adopt a zero-tolerance attitude in its fight to get fishing licences for all its vessels in British and Crown Dependency waters.

France’s Minister for Europe, Clément Beaune told CNews TV, “I stand by the fact we pursued dialogue until now, we got half of the fishing licences today, but that’s not enough and not acceptable. So now, we need to speak the language of strength since that seems to be the only thing this British government understands.”

France has derided the decision last month by the UK and the Channel Island of Jersey to refuse dozens of French fishing boats licenses to operate in their territorial waters. France says the restrictions are contrary to the Trade and Cooperation agreement.

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After weeks of negotiations, British authorities issued more fishing licenses but the number still only accounts for 50 percent of what France believes it is entitled to.

The French signalled their intention yesterday when they seized a UK-registered trawler and fined another operating in the Baie de Seine.

The Macduff Shellfish owned scallop dredger, Cornelius Gert Jan, was detained by the French Maritime Police along with another boat that was fishing in the Baie de Seine. The French authorities claim that the boats were fishing without the proper licences, a claim denied by director of Macduff Shellfish, Andrew Brown who told Sky News, “Macduff’s fishing activity is entirely legal. It appears our vessel is another pawn in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France on the implementation of the Brexit Fishing Agreement.”

French maritime minister Annick Girardin said the ships were cautioned during checks off Le Havre overnight.

She said the first did not comply right away and the second was not allowed to fish in French waters so was detained.

She tweeted this morning “This Wednesday, two English ships were fined during classic checks off Le Havre. The first did not comply spontaneously: verbalization. The second did not have a license to fish in our waters: diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority.”

In a press release entitled ACCESS TO FRENCH WATERS: TWO ENGLISH SHIPS FINED, ONE OF WHICH WAS DIVERTED BY THE MARITIME GENDARMERIE the Ministére de la Mer said:

“This Wednesday, October 27, the patroller of the maritime gendarmerie “Athos” carried out several checks on fishing in the Bay of Seine, off Le Havre. In addition to the traditional surveillance carried out during the scallop fishing season, this operation is part of the tightening of controls in the Channel, in the context of discussions on licenses with the United Kingdom and the European Commission.

Two English vessels fishing in French waters have been fined. The first was for obstruction of control. In fact, at first, he did not spontaneously comply with the boarding request by the maritime gendarmes, as provided for in the regulations. On the summons of the maritime gendarmes, he ended up submitting to the control, which did not reveal any other infringement of the regulations on maritime fisheries. This English fishing vessel was fined for obstructing control.

The second English vessel checked while fishing in French waters was not on the license lists granted to the United Kingdom by the European Commission and France. The departmental director of territories and the sea immediately issued a diversion order to the port of Le Havre. The patroller of the maritime gendarmerie thus summoned the infringing fishing vessel to follow it to the port of Le Havre.

Under the control of the judge of freedoms and detention, the diversion procedure can lead to the confiscation of the fishery product as well as to the immobilization of the vessel against the payment of a deposit. This represents significant economic consequences for the shipowner. The captain of the fishing vessel risks penal sanctions, under the supervision of the judicial authority.”

France has threatened trade disruptions beginning on 02 November it is boats are not granted more access to British Waters.

On the retaliatory measures against the UK, Girardin said, “The 4 retaliatory measures will be put in place from November 2 against the British. Disproportionate? They are not. We defend our rights, our fishermen and our coastline. When you put your signature at the bottom of an agreement, you respect it.”

A spokeswoman for the UK government said it was “urgently” looking into reports of French enforcement activity.

The UK said on today that France’s threat to block British boats from its ports appeared to breach international law and vowed to retaliate if Paris goes ahead.

“France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner,” the UK statement said.

It said the measures “do not appear to be compatible” with the UK-EU Brexit withdrawal agreement “and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response”.

Brexit Minister Lord Frost said on Wednesday that French threats to block UK boats from ports were “disappointing”.

Related Stories: French Politicians prepare to fight UK over fishing licence dispute

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French fines two UK trawlers and detains one as fishing licences dispute escalates

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