Friday, December 3

France fines two British fishing boats amid dispute with UK

The French maritime police fined two English fishing boats in the Seine river bay and kept one in the port of Le Havre overnight in a fishing line with the United Kingdom.

One was fined for not immediately submitting to control, while the other “was not on the lists of licenses granted to the UK” by the European Commission and France and was diverted to the port of Le Havre by a maritime police patrol boat. , where he is detained.

The controls, quite common during the “scallop fishing season,” are also “part of the tightening of controls in the Canal, in the context of license discussions with the United Kingdom and the European Commission,” the statement said. Ministry.

A UK government spokesman said in a statement: “We are aware of reports of law enforcement activities being carried out by the French authorities and are investigating the matter urgently.”

The actions came after France threatened to impose more customs controls on goods from the UK from 2 November if they did not receive any more UK fishing licenses.

They say that around half of the requested fishing licenses have not been received and that they do not respect the agreement reached before the final departure of the country from the block.

The post-Brexit agreement with the European Union said that fishermen could continue to fish in British waters if they obtained a license and proved that they were previously fishing there.

“Our wish is simply that the agreement reached be respected … When we signed an agreement, and that was the case in the context of Brexit, the agreement must be respected. Our patience is reaching the limit,” said the government of France. spokesman Gabriel Attal said at a press conference.

Attal said that as of November 2, France could progressively introduce “systematic customs and sanitary controls” on goods crossing the Canal, including a ban on unloading seafood at ports and truck controls, which could slow down trade.

He added that other measures related to supplying electricity to the islands of Jersey and Guernsey could be issued in the following weeks.

The measures should be officially announced this week, Attal said, and would go into effect unless the UK issues more fishing licenses to French fishermen.

The British government called the measures “disappointing” and “disproportionate”.

“The threats from France are disappointing and disproportionate, and do not correspond to what one would expect from a close ally and partner,” said a government spokesman.

The British Brexit secretary, David Frost, denounced the absence of “official communication from the French government on this issue.”

Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Foreign Minister, tweeted: “We are extremely disappointed with today’s announcement by the French government. The retaliatory measures described are disproportionate.”

France’s Minister of Europe, Clément Beaune, replied in TV Thursday morning: “I accept that we have made threats and had a dialogue. Now we have to speak the language of force because, unfortunately, this British government only understands that.”

The French government met with the regions and local municipalities on measures that they could also take at the local level to tackle the problem.

“We want the agreement to be respected [so] that our fishermen can work according to what was agreed in the agreement with the British, ”Attal said.

Eleven EU countries signed a statement earlier this month criticizing the UK’s requirements for fishing vessels less than 12 meters in length to provide position data.

“We note in particular that the UK requires a geolocation test for vessels under 12 meters, whereas such a test is not provided for in the ATT. [EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement] and fishermen are not obliged to do so according to EU rules, “the EU countries said.

The UK said in late September that it had a “reasonable” approach to granting fishing licenses.

“The government has issued a large number of licenses this year to EU vessels seeking to fish in our exclusive economic zone (12-200 nautical mile zone) and our territorial sea (6-12 nautical mile zone)”, the UK Environment Department said. , Food and Rural Affairs.

“Our approach has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ATT),” they added.

Britain’s Environment Secretary George Eustice told parliament on Thursday that “any qualifying ship has access.”

“The reality is that these ships had no antecedents in our waters,” he said. “Because the French were struggling at one point to provide the data, the UK government actually went into the commercial market and bought AIS (Automatic Identification System) data for some of the French ships so that we could help understand better your application “.

He added that he had discussed the matter on Wednesday with the EU commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevicius, and stressed that “it is important that we remain calm, that we lower the tension.”

He then said that France going ahead with its threats would not be “consistent with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, probably not consistent with the official control regime under EU law.”

France’s Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, told RTL radio this Thursday morning that the country wants the European Commission to “convene, and this will be reiterated by the Prime Minister in the next few days or hours” to bring together all signatories to the fisheries agreement and “tell the UK that it is not respecting its agreement and that therefore the European Commission may take retaliatory action”.

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