The UK has condemned the “unwarranted” threats from France and summoned the country’s ambassador, in an escalation of controversy over post-Brexit fishing rights.
Foreign Minister Liz Truss calls for talks on Friday, asking the ambassador to explain “disappointing and disproportionate threats”.
A British fishing boat was hijacked by France and another was fined during checks off Le Havre overnight until Thursday.
The French authorities claimed that the detained ship did not have a license.
However, Environment Secretary George Eustice insisted that the European Union granted a license to the fishing vessel and said it was “unclear” why it was subsequently withdrawn from the list according to reports. to the EU.
France was angered by the UK and Jersey’s decision last month to deny fishing licenses to dozens of French boats and claimed to have violated the Brexit deal.
The country has warned that next week it will block British boats from some ports and tighten controls on British boats and trucks if the fishing license dispute is not resolved by 2 November.
It issued its ultimatum on Wednesday evening, saying it would begin imposing “targeted measures” from next Tuesday, including preventing British fishing vessels from landing in ports and further checks on UK goods.
France also warned it could cut electricity supplies to Jersey, a British Crown dependency, as previously threatened in May.
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Ms Truss tweeted Thursday evening: “I have instructed European Minister Wendy Morton to summon the French ambassador to the UK for talks tomorrow to explain the disappointing and disproportionate threats against the UK and the Channel Islands.”
And Brexit Minister Lord Frost chaired a meeting to consider the British government’s response to the discussion.
A government spokesman said: “The proposed French actions are unwarranted and do not appear to be compatible by the EU with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) or with wider international law.
“We regret the conflicting language that has been constantly used by the French government on this issue, which makes this situation no easier to resolve.”
The spokesman added that concerns were raised “strongly” with France and the EU Commission.
The detained ship was named Cornelis Gert Jan.
Its owner, Macduff Shellfish of Scotland, said the ship was legally fishing in French waters and called on the UK government to protect the rights of British fishermen.
The company’s Andrew Brown said it appeared that Cornelis, based in Shoreham, West Sussex, had been “trapped” in the ongoing fishing line between the UK and post-Brexit France.
He warned that without “a swift resolution”, the ship’s catch could be confiscated by the French authorities and called on the UK government to “defend the rights of the British fishing fleet”.
The company would “vigorously defend itself” against any complaints, but its “overriding concern” was for the well-being of the ship’s crew, he said.
French Navy Minister Annick Girardin said on Twitter the trawler was found fishing in the Seine Bay without the appropriate permits.
The minister said checks on British vessels were standard during the scallop fishing season.
But he added that they were also undertaken “against the backdrop of tightening controls in the Channel, in the context of licensing discussions with the UK and the European Commission”.
The UK claims that the rejected applications that sparked the dispute did not have enough evidence to prove the boats had a history of fishing in British or Jersey waters.
A meeting with officials from France, Jersey, UK and the European Commission on Wednesday resulted in 162 French boats having been licensed to fish in Jersey waters since Friday.
The government of Jersey said it was “extremely disappointed” by the latest threats of sanctions from France. Previously, French trawlers had protested outside St Helier’s harbor on the island.
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