A British trawler Cornelis Gert Jan is seen moored in the port of Le Havre, after France seized on Thursday a British trawler fishing in its territorial waters without a license, in Le Havre, France on October 29, 2021. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier reuters_tickers

This content was published on October 29, 2021 – 10:48

By Costas Pitas and Sarah Meyssonnier

LONDON / LE HAVRE, France (Reuters) – Britain on Friday threatened to board French fishing boats and France has maintained a plan to impose sanctions on British vessels in an increasingly serious row on post-Brexit fishing rights.

The long-running dispute erupted this week after France listed the action that would be taken against Britain if London did not allow more French trawlers to fish in British waters, then seized a British boat in the French territorial waters.

Britain disputed France’s explanation that the scallop dredge was not allowed to fish in French waters, and retaliated by threatening retaliation and summoning the French ambassador to London for complaints. talks later on Friday to explain the actions of Paris.

The dispute is part of a larger dispute over post-Brexit trade deals between Britain and the European Union that could lead to serious disruption before Christmas if it gets out of hand.

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice said London could fight back if France enforced sanctions, including additional customs checks on British goods from Tuesday. The prospect that Paris will also increase energy tariffs in Britain is also looming.

“Obviously, it is always open to us to always strengthen the application of the law on French ships, to embark more of them if that is what they do to our ships,” Eustice said on television. the BBC.

“There are other administrative things that we can require from the ships,” he said.

French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie told France 2 TV that there had been no progress in negotiations for more fishing licenses in Britain and said it was fair that the France is considering sanctions against Britain.

THREATS AND COUNTER-THREATS

The Cornelis Gert Jan, a scallop dredge, was escorted to the port of Le Havre in northern France on Wednesday after his crew failed to prove they were authorized to fish in French territorial waters, have announced French officials.

British officials said he had the correct documentation. The local prosecution said the skipper of the ship will be called to appear in court in Le Havre in August 2022.

France claims that Britain has refused to grant its fishermen the total number of licenses to operate in British waters that France considers justified. Britain says it issues licenses to ships that meet its criteria.

France has threatened to ban British fishing vessels from disembarking in French ports, to carry out additional licensing checks on British vessels, to tighten controls on trucks, to strengthen customs and hygiene controls and to d ” increase electricity prices.

Seas Minister Annick Girardin has made it clear that France cannot cut Britain’s electricity supply as a retaliatory measure, but said it could raise tariffs. Britain imported about 6% of its electricity supply from France on Thursday, the data showed.

Eustice said London’s goal for now was to try to resolve the issue with the European Commission, the EU’s executive body and with France’s ambassador in London.

British Brexit Minister David Frost was due to meet in London on Friday with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic.

Some British officials describe France’s defense of its fishermen as an attempt by President Emmanuel Macron to show he is defending their interests ahead of the April elections in which he is expected to run for a new term.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also cannot afford to appear weak on fishing rights after leading the campaign to leave the EU.

Fishing makes a small contribution to the French and British economies but is a lifeline for some coastal communities.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas, Paul Sandle and William Schombergin London; Sarah Meyssonnier in Le Havre; Layli Foroudi, Juliette Jabkhiro in Paris; Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


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