The French Navy Ministry said ships were warned during maritime police checks on fishing vessels off the northern port of Le Havre on Wednesday night, hours after Paris warned it had to “Speak the language of force” with London in the middle of the smoldering row and warned of impending penalties.
The seized trawler, now under the control of French judicial authorities, had no evidence that it was allowed to fish in French waters, the Navy ministry said.
She was then diverted to Le Havre and moored at the port quay. The captain of the boat could now face criminal charges and his catch could be confiscated.
The other boat was fined for initially resisting a maritime police check.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel called the seizure “disappointing” while Environment Minister George Eustice called for calm.
Eustice told the British Parliament that he had spoken to EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius and stressed the importance of “defusing” the situation.
The incidents came after France threatened to take retaliatory action from next week on what it said was the UK’s refusal to grant its fishermen the full number of licenses to operate in the British waters that Paris claims to be justified.
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 had not provided any evidence to support their claims. requests.
France says the restrictions run counter to the post-Brexit deal London signed in December 2020, eleven months after formally leaving the EU on January 31 last year.
London and Paris trade beards
Negotiations between the UK and the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, over the dispute over fishing rights are ongoing.
After weeks of talks, UK authorities have issued more licenses, but that number is still only 50% of what France thinks it “is entitled” to, the French government spokesman said on Wednesday, Gabriel Attal.
Attal’s remarks came as French ministers for Europe and Maritime Affairs on Wednesday said in a joint statement that Paris would ban British fishing vessels from designated ports and impose additional customs checks on British goods entering the country. France from November 2, unless an acceptable deal is reached before then.
This raises the prospect of more economic hardship ahead of Christmas for the UK, which is currently facing labor shortages and rising energy prices.
Paris is also considering a second round of sanctions which “does not exclude” measures that would target the UK’s energy supply.
The Minister of European Affairs, Clément Beaune, told the CNews France news channel that it was necessary “to speak the language of force because that seems to be the only thing this British government understands”.
But the UK defended its position, with officials saying fishing licenses had been issued to vessels able to prove they were operating in its waters in the years leading up to its withdrawal from the EU.
A government spokesperson said on Thursday that France’s threats of action “do not appear compatible” with the UK-EU Brexit withdrawal agreement “and with broader international law”, before d ” warn that they will receive an appropriate and calibrated response if they are implemented.
“The threats from France are disappointing and disproportionate and do not correspond to what we would expect from a close ally and partner,” said the spokesperson.
Andrew Simmons of Al Jazeera, in a report from London, said the dispute appeared to be heading for further “escalation”.
“It’s unclear how this will be resolved as the threats are going in a very serious direction,” Simmons said.
“This is a period of real tension between France and Britain over a series of issues,” he added, citing the quarrel that erupted following the announcement of the AUKUS security pact between the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
The trilateral agreement for the Indo-Pacific region led Australia to forgo a multibillion-dollar deal with France to build conventional submarines.
Instead, it will buy at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with American and British technology.