Scottish trawler detained in France amid ongoing fishing dispute

The boat was ordered to Le Havre harbour on Wednesday evening after authorities boarded the scallop vessel.

Scottish trawler detained in France amid ongoing fishing dispute Email

A Scottish fishing boat has been detained by French fishing authorities as tensions between the UK and France escalate.

The boat, the Cornelis, was ordered to Le Havre harbour on Wednesday evening after authorities boarded the scallop vessel.

The French maritime minister, Annick Girardin, said on Twitter that the boat did not have a licence to fish in French waters.

However the owners of the Scottish trawler, Macduff Shellfish, said its fishing activity is “entirely legal”.

Andrew Brown, a director of the Mintlaw based firm, said: “It appears our vessel is another pawn in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France on the implementation of the Brexit Fishing Agreement. 

“We are looking to the UK Government to defend the rights of the UK fishing fleet and ensure that the fishing rights provided under the Brexit Fishing Agreement are fully respected by the EU. 

“We will vigorous defend ourselves against any vexatious claims.”

The firm said the boat was detained around 6pm on Wednesday. Another British vessel was also fined.

The UK environment secretary, George Eustice, said: “My officials are investigating the circumstances around this vessel that’s been detained in France.

“It is too early to be able to identify precisely what happened.

“But I have seen reports that it was on a list originally and then appeared not to be on a list.

“But it is something that I’ve asked our officials to urgently investigate.”

It comes as there is a growing tension between the two countries over post-Brexit fishing rights.

The French Government has accused the UK of not giving its fishermen enough licences under the Brexit agreement.

However, the UK Government says it has granted 98% of licence applications.

But on Wednesday night the French Government said it would introduce sanctions from November 2 if the situation is not resolved.

In statement it warned of banning UK vessels from some French ports, reinforcement of controls on lorries from the UK and custom controls.

France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, told French TV news channel CNews: “We have been extremely patient, our fishermen have been extremely responsible.

“And so, from November 2, it’s over: we will engage in dialogue if the British want to, but we are taking retaliatory measures.

“Now we need to speak the language of force because, unfortunately, that seems to be the only thing this British Government understands.”

The UK Government says the threats do not comply with international law.

A spokesman said: “France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner.

“The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.

“We will be relaying our concerns to the EU Commission and French Government.

“The UK stands by its commitments in the TCA and has granted 98% of licence applications from EU vessels to fish in our waters.”