France Detains British Trawler Amid Fishing Rights Dispute
The detention of the vessel came on the day that French authorities announced further retaliatory measures over Britain’s refusal to license more French trawlers to fish in its waters.
French authorities say that they have stepped up surveillance of fishing vessels during negotiations on licensing, with French maritime gendarmes making multiple checks on fishing vessels off the northern French port of Le Havre overnight.
According to the French maritime ministry two boats were fined on Oct. 27 after one failed to comply with police checks and the other was found to be without a proper licence.
English fishing industry representatives accused the French government of politicising the dispute over licenses and ramping up the rhetoric ahead of the upcoming French presidential election.
The vessel’s captain could face criminal charges, with his catch confiscated, according to the French maritime ministry.
The French government said that from Nov. 2 extra customs checks will be imposed on British goods.
European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune signalled France would be forceful in the dispute.
“So now, we need to speak the language of strength since that seems to be the only thing this British government understands,” Beaune told news channel CNews.
Barrie Deas, from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, told the BBC that descending into a “tit for tat” relationship was “unhelpful.”
“It may be normal enforcement action but against the background of the threatening noises coming from the French government … it’s very concerning,” he said.
“There’s a presidential election coming up in France and all the signs are that the rhetoric has been ramped up ahead of that on the fishing issue.”
“It’s a bit strange because the French fleets fish much more in UK waters than we fish in their waters.
A UK government spokesperson described the threats from France as, “disproportionate,” and “not what we would expect from a close ally and partner.”
“The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.
The spokesperson said that the UK has granted 98 percent of EU license applications to fish in British waters.
Negotiations between Britain and the European Commission, the EU executive, over the dispute on fishing rights, have continued this week.
Additional customs checks on goods travelling between Britain and the continent via the Channel Tunnel and ferries could seriously disrupt trade flows just as businesses stock up for the year-end festive period.
Thu, 10/28/2021 – 13:10