France Summons Seized British Fishing Boat Captain To Court As UK Warns ‘Two Can Play That Game’

French authorities seized the ship, fined another British vessel and announced the closure of nearly all French ports to UK trawlers on Thursday, a major escalation in the long-term dispute between the allies.

French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said in an interview on French television station CNEWS that, with a few exceptions, all French ports will no longer be accessible to British ships, referring to ships that unload fish and products. agricultural.

Cornelis captain Gert Jan is expected to appear in court on August 11, 2022 for alleged “unauthorized fishing by a non-EU vessel in French maritime waters,” according to a statement from Deputy Prosecutor Cyrille Fournier. .

“Upon inspection, the captain of the vessel was not in possession of the required authorization to fish in the French exclusive economic zone,” Fournier said in a statement.

Juliette Hatchman, executive director of the South West Fish Producers Organization, told CNN that she believes the ship’s crew were “in possession of the appropriate license to fish in European Union waters and therefore were fishing fully legally in the time of shipment by the French authorities “. However, Hatchman noted that “it appeared that the ship was not on an approved UK list.”

The latest French measures come in response to the UK government’s refusal to grant post-Brexit fishing licenses to several French fishermen. A spokesman for the EU commission told reporters on Tuesday that as of October 1, the UK had licensed 15 of the 47 smaller French vessels that applied to fish in UK territorial waters.

Of the remaining vessels, France agreed to rescind applications for 17 vessels whose evidence of their fishing activity in British waters prior to Brexit was deemed deficient, the spokesperson said.

‘Two can play in that game’, says UK

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Friday that the British government “reserves the ability to respond in a proportionate manner” to France’s retaliatory measures, telling Sky News that “two can play that game. “.

“The things that they are suggesting to do, which is basically starting to be difficult at the borders and closing ports, etc., is a clear break not only of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that we have with them, but also of the EU law. “Eustice said. “The comments that France has made on this are completely disproportionate. They are unacceptable.”

France detains UK boat as dispute over fishing rights escalates

Eustice added that the latest incident concerns a “very small number of vessels that simply do not qualify under the terms of the agreement” reached.

A UK government spokesperson said: ‘We repeat that the Government has granted 98% of EU vessel license applications to fish in UK waters and, as has been consistently made clear, will consider any additional evidence on the rest. “

French Sea Minister Annick Girardin said the vessel that was detained on Thursday was not on the EU-approved list of UK fishing vessels, and the regional government director “immediately issued” an order to divert the vessel. to the French port of Le Havre. A second ship was fined for failing to comply with orders to allow French authorities to board the ship for controls, according to the statement tweeted by Girardin. Additional checks by French maritime gendarmes found no further infractions of fishing regulations.

Joseph Ataman reported from Paris, Martin Goillandeau reported from London.

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