France detains British trawler in row over fishing rights

·2-min read

Watch: France detains British trawler as fishing rights row intensifies

France has detained a British fishing boat and given a verbal warning to another fishing in waters off its coast, the French government has said.

A British trawler has been handed over to French authorities after France issued the warning to that boat and another British boat fishing near the port at Le Havre, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

France gave verbal warnings to two British boats that were fishing in its waters on Wednesday night, as tension simmers between the neighbours over post-Brexit arrangements.

The French maritime ministry said it gave the warnings overnight to the two boats, one of which was re-directed to the French harbour. The captain of the latter boat risked legal action and confiscation of his catch, it added.

France says its fishermen lack half the licences needed to fish in British waters, which Paris says they are owed after Britain left the European Union.

On Wednesday, France issued a list of sanctions that could take effect from Nov 2 unless there is sufficient progress in the fishing row with Britain, saying it was working on a second round that could affect power supplies to its neighbour.

France could step up border and sanitary checks on goods from Britain, deny its fishing boats access to designated ports, and stiffen checks on trucks travelling between the two countries, the French maritime and European affairs ministries said in a joint statement.

Watch: France releases list of possible sanctions it could impose

Downing Street threatens to retaliate

The seizing of the British boat comes as the Government on Wednesday vowed to retaliate if France carries out a threat to block British fishermen from its ports over the post-Brexit fishing row.

A Government spokesman said the French ultimatum to disrupt trade and hamper energy supplies will be hit with “an appropriate and calibrated response”.

In an escalation of the tensions, Paris warned that from Nov 2 it was ready to block British fishermen from its ports and that its customs officials could implement a “go slow” approach at its borders for incoming shipments from the UK.

A spokesman for Emmanuel Macron, the French President, said the country will “not let Britain wipe its feet on the Brexit deal” and said sanctions could be announced on Thursday.

Paris said a secondary range of measures could restrict energy supplies to Jersey, increasing the price, and implementing harsher customs controls on cross-Channel trade.

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