France seizes British boat amidst Brexit fishing row
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Tension between the UK and France has intensified in the last 24 hours as a British trawler is detained by French authorities. In the latest escalation in the post-Brexit dispute over fishing licences, the captain of the boat has been ordered to appear in court next year, French authorities have announced. Cyrille Fournier, the deputy prosecutor of Le Havre, where the boat was seized, said its captain had been told to attend court in August next year having been accused of operating in French waters without a permit. He said: “The captain of the ship Cornelis Gert Jan has been summoned by Maritime Gendarmerie to appear at the criminal court of Le Havre on August 11, 2022, to be judged on unauthorised sea fishing in French waters by a third party vessel to the European Union.
“Indeed, after verification, the captain of the vessel did not have the authorisation required to fish in the French exclusive economic zone.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will now hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron at the G20 summit, Downing Street has confirmed.
This incident is the latest in a long history of post-Brexit tussles between the UK and France, and one expert warned the “toxicity” will go on for decades.
Barrie Deas, the chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, told the New York Times in May: “This is not going to settle down.
“Fish will be a source of a toxic relationship for a long time, possibly for decades.”
Britain and France have clashed over fishing ever since the UK voted to leave the EU.
The Brexit trade deal with the EU has divided opinion, with fishermen in the UK furious with the terms agreed.
UK fishing boats will get a larger share of fish, as 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the British fleet over a period of five years.
After that, there will be annual negotiations to decide how the catch is shared out between the UK and EU, and Britain would have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026.
EU and UK officials locked in negotiations over whether more permits to operate in British waters could be granted to French fishermen.
Bruno Bonnell, a member of the French parliament, Friday insisted today the UK had instigated the dispute by refusing 244 licences for French trawlers.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I like the idea that France is threatening… It’s like a chicken and egg situation, now the blame is on France when originally it was somewhere else.”
He added that French fishermen were losing “25 percent” of their business each month they are not allowed to operate in Britain’s coastal waters.
Mr Bonnell continued: “If we face a situation where licences are blocked, there will be some retaliation.
“I don’t know if it’s fair or not, I just know the whole thing started because the principle of the deal out of Brexit was broken by the English authorities.”
France has also been at odds with the Channel Island of Jersey after many of the country’s fishermen were excluded from fishing waters.
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France was angered by a decision from the UK and Jersey in September to deny fishing licences to dozens of French boats.
On Wednesday, French officials warned that if there was no agreement by November 2 retaliatory measures could be levelled at the Channel Island.
In May, about 60 French fishing vessels staged a protest outside the harbour at St Helier, Jersey.
Jersey’s government said it was “extremely disappointed” at the French stance.
Jersey Minister for Environment John Young and the Minister for External Relations Ian Gorst released a statement accusing the French of “pursuing an approach of retaliatory measures”.
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