Brexit fishing: France detains British trawler as French government threatens ‘targeted measures' within days

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France has detained a British trawler and given a verbal warning to another after they were found in fishing waters off its coast, the French government has said.

The two ships were found off Le Havre, a major port in Normandy, and fined.

In a tweet the French Maritime Ministry said: “This Wednesday, two English ships were fined during classic checks off Le Havre.

“The first did not comply spontaneously: verbalization.

“The second did not have a licence to fish in our waters: diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority.”

It marks a major escalation in the post-Brexit fishing rights row between the two nations.

France is seeking greater access to British fishing waters and was angered by a decision from the UK and Jersey last month to deny fishing licences to dozens of French boats, and argued that it breached the Brexit deal.

They claim their fishermen have not been issued with half the licences they are entitled to under the agreement.

On Wednesday the French government issued an ultimatum and said it would begin to impost “targeted measures” from Tuesday of next week if the UK did not change its tune.

The measures include:

  • Preventing British fishing boats from disembarking at ports
  • Increasing border and sanitary checks on UK goods
  • Routine security checks on British vessels
  • Increasing checks on trucks going to and from the UK

Brexit Minister Lord Frost has lashed out at France and said the stance was “disappointing”.

He said the UK was seeking “urgent clarification” of France’s plans.

France said it was also preparing further sanctions, which could include cutting electricity supplies to Jersey, as it previously threatened in May.

Brexit fishing: France detains British trawler as French government threatens ‘targeted measures’ within days
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Speaking before the news of the two vessels being stopped, Lord Frost said: “It is very disappointing that France has felt it necessary to make threats late this evening against the UK fishing industry and seemingly traders more broadly.

“As we have had no formal communication from the French government on this matter we will be seeking urgent clarification of their plans.

“We will consider what further action is necessary in that light.”

Downing Street said the “disappointing and disproportionate” threat of sanctions was “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 and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response,” a spokeswoman said.

She said that the UK will raise concerns with both the EU and French government, arguing that it had granted 98 per cent of licence applications from European boats.

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