Crew of a British fishing vessel are “in good spirits” as they celebrate their return to the UK today, after being impounded in France’s ongoing dispute over post-Brexit fishing right.
Cornelis Gertjan, a scallop dredger registered in Scotland, left Le Havre yesterday evening. He had been held there since last week when France accused it for fishing in its waters without a proper license.
According to MarineTraffic.com, the blue, white, and red trawler left the quayside at dusk and docked at Shoreham-by-Sea at 4.46am today. After apparently leaving port, the vessel was seen just off the coast as of 9am.
Cornelis Gert, a scallop dredger registered in Scotland, left Le Havre yesterday evening (pictured are the crew celebrating on deck).
Macduff Shellfish, the vessel’s public affairs director, confirmed that it had been released by French authorities.
Andrew Brown stated in a statement that the court (of appeal), determined that no bond was necessary for the release the vessel.
He said, “We are pleased to have the matter resolved and delighted that our vessel and crew are now able return home.” Throughout the whole incident, the crew acted calmly and professionally.
“They are in good spirits, looking ahead to returning to their loved ones, and are grateful for all of the messages of support from the British public.”
After Jondy Ward, the captain of the boat, appeared at Rouen’s Court of Appeal, the ruling was made.
Ward explained that the French maritime police detained this trawler because it was not on a European Register when it was fishing off Normandy.
The skipper stated that he didn’t know if it was an error by French or UK officials.
He stated, “We had everything in order at the bridge, so far as I was concerned, everything was legal.”
After being released by French authorities, the Cornelis Gérard Jan left Le Havre port last night.
He stated that the boat was ‘definitely caught’ in the middle of the Franco–British spat about post-Brexit fishery arrangements.
Mathieu Crix, his lawyer, repeated these comments to reporters outside the courtroom. He said: ‘We’re clearly caught up in a politics game as there’s a whole case spun around this entire affair, while in fact it’s a rather mundane affair about fishing in an allegedly out of bounds area, licences that may have been denied, and catch amounts which are relatively modest.
It occurs as Lord Frost is preparing to meet France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune, Paris, in an effort to end the crisis of cross-Channel relations.
France has threatened to impose sanctions on the UK because it refused to issue licences for its trawlers in UK waters.
The UK Government insists that the vast majority of licence applications have been granted.
Emmanuel Macron, French President, has delayed the impositions of punitive actions while talks between France, the UK and the European Commission take places.
The blue, red, and white trawler left the quayside at dusk and docked at Shoreham-by-Sea near Brighton at 4.46 AM today
The French government insists that the measures, which could include a ban for British trawlers landing their catch in French ports and tighter controls to hinder cross-Channel commerce, remain ‘on the Table’ if no deal is reached.
Lord Frost will travel to Brussels on Friday, to meet Maros Selevicio, vice-president at the European Commission, to continue his talks today with Mr Beaune.
Gabriel Attal, a spokesperson for the Government, stated that the threat of sanctions remains: “We will see what happens with those meetings.”
“As you all know, the control actions we have announced are still suspended. However, all options are available and we may need them to implement if we don’t reach an agreement.
He stated today that he was just waiting for one thing: the UK to honor the agreement they signed.
The Brexit deal allows boats from the European Union to be eligible for a license if they can prove that they have fished in British waters in at most four years between 2012 and 2016.
There have been 1,831 applications for licenses, and 1,793 were issued.
Captain Jondy (pictured) is seen getting Cornelis Gert January to leave Le Havre
The main contention has been over smaller vessels, the fishing below 12-meters from the coast. 50 applications were received, all from French vessels, but only 19 have been granted.
Lord Frost will not be ignoring the fishing row during his talks in Paris or Brussels.
The main dispute between the UK, EU and the UK is over Northern Ireland’s post Brexit trading arrangements.
The UK and EU are still in talks over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit divorce agreement that avoided a hard border between Ireland and the UK.
The deal effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single goods market. It also means that there are some checks for products crossing from Great Britain to the Irish Sea.
Emmanuel Macron (seen together with Boris Johnson), has delayed the imposition punitive measures, while talks between France, the UK and the European Commission take places
Lord Frost claims that Article 16 has been used to allow parts of the deal’s suspension because of the difficulties.
The UK wants to end the oversight role of the European Court of Justice, which Brussels has denied.
Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission, told ITV’s Peston that he believes Mr Frost is well aware that this is impossible for the European Union.
“I know he is aware that the ultimate arbitrator in any dispute involving the internal market is the European Court of Justice.”
He stated that the European Commission was ‘bending over backwards to reach an accord with the UK on this protocol.