French authorities have taken a British trawler into custody and reprimanded another, after they were caught fishing in waters off their coast. This is part of the ongoing row over boat licenses.

The French Maritime Ministry tweeted: “This Wednesday, two English vessels were fined during classic checks off Le Havre.

“The first did not respond spontaneously: verbalization.

“The second didn’t have a license to fish in our water: diverted to quay and handed to the judicial authorities.”

It comes after Downing Street on Wednesday vowed to retaliate against Paris if it goes ahead with the ‘disappointing and disproportionate’ threat to impose sanctions on Britain in an escalation of the row over fishing boat licenses.

Reacting to the news, Barry Deas, chief executive of national federation of fishermen’s organisations told BBC’s Today: ‘It may be normal enforcement action but against the background of the threatening noises coming from the French Government yesterday, it’s very concerning.

French authorities have detained a British fishing trawler and reprimanded another off the coast of Le Havre as the row over licenses between France and the UK continues (stock image)

French authorities detained a British fishing boat and reprimanded another off Le Havre’s coast, as the row over licences between France and the UK continues. Stock image

France seems determined increase this issue about licenses. It is hard to understand why.

“There is a French presidential election and all signs point to a rampant rhetorical campaign ahead of the one on the fishing issue. 

“I think the UK government is following the trade and cooperation agreements. Not that it’s something we like, but it’s there. 

“This is something that should have been settled around the table. My understanding is that those talks are continuing but this escalation I believe has got a political dimension.

The number of ‘UK ships landing in French ports isn’t huge. It’s not surprising, as the French fish in UK waters more than we do. Therefore, if we get into a tit-for-tat relationship, I believe the French fleet will be more exposed. 

“I don’t think that’s a helpful path to go, but it’s a strange direction for the French to take, which is why this has all been politicised.”

Earlier, the French Government threatened to block British vessels from certain ports next weeks if the post Brexit dispute was not resolved.

Paris even suggested to President Emmanuel Macron that his administration could cut off energy supplies from the Channel Islands if a deal is not reached with the UK, as the UK’s relations with the EU have worsened.

No 10 stated that the threats don’t seem to be compatible ‘international law’. He promised an ‘appropriate, calibrated response’ if Paris doesn’t back down.

The French Government has dramatically warned it will block British vessels from some ports next week if the post-Brexit dispute over fishing licences is not resolved. Pictured: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech on Wednesday in Paris

The French Government has threatened to block British vessels from several ports next week if it is not resolved in the post-Brexit dispute regarding fishing licences. Pictured: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech on Wednesday in Paris

Relations between London, Paris and the UK have become increasingly strained since the UK has left the economic orbits of the European Union at beginning of the year. 

France was angered last month by a decision made by the UK and Jersey to refuse dozens of French fishing licenses in their waters. They claim it is against the Brexit agreement.

Jersey, located 14 miles from the French coast, can be called a British Crown dependency. It has its own powers regarding who is allowed to fish within its territorial waters. 

It granted licenses on the basis of its interpretation of UK-EU trade deals and has accused France for acting in a disproportionate manner. 

After weeks of negotiations, British authorities issued more fishing licences, but this still only represents half of what France believes it is entitled to, Gabriel Attal, a spokesperson for the French government, said Wednesday. 

France threatened to block British vessels from certain ports if there is no agreement on the licenses by Tuesday. It also threatened to tighten controls on vessels traveling between France and the UK.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the French ministers for Europe & maritime affairs stated that if no agreement is reached by November 2, France would ban British fishing boats from certain ports and tighten customs and security controls on any British boats or trucks traveling between France & Britain.

In the statement, France stated that it would not exclude measures to increase energy supplies to Britain in the coming weeks. 

Attal explained that Attal meant the Channel Islands. These islands are closer to France than British shores and rely heavily upon electricity supplied by the French grid.

A spokeswoman for the UK Government said that France’s threats were disappointing and unproportional and not what one would expect from a close ally or partner.

“The measures being threatened are not compatible with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and international law in general. They will be met with a suitable and calibrated response if they are carried out.”

She stated that Britain would express its concerns to both the EU and the French Government and pointed out that the UK had granted 98 percent license applications from European vessels.

Downing Street vowed to retaliate against Paris if it goes ahead with the 'disappointing and disproportionate' threat to impose sanctions in an escalation of the row over fishing boats. Pictured: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, October 27

Downing Street pledged to retaliate against Paris, if it continues with its ‘disappointingly disproportionate’ threat of imposing sanctions in an escalation to the row over fishing vessels. Pictured: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, October 27

Pictured: French fishermen protest off the coast of Jersey in May this year (file photo)

Pictured: In May, French fishermen protested off the Jersey coast (file photo). 

However, the dispute continues over 31 vessels for which the UK has not approved licences. The UK argues that they did not have the supporting evidence required to support their claims.

Britain claims the majority of the vessels were denied entry because they failed the required proof that they had fished within the six-to-12-mile area in the years preceding the UK’s referendum to leave the EU. 

Attal, a spokesperson of the Macron administration, stated that Britain’s conduct in relation to fishing rights in British waterways following Brexit had resulted in the French losing patience.

He said that there would be’systematic Customs and sanitary Inspections on Imported Products Arriving in Channel Ports’ starting next Tuesday. This includes a ban for disembarking seafood products, as well as checks on lorries.

France is Britain’s largest export market for fish. In 2019, the trade accounted for £561.1 million, or 27.7 per cent of total exports.

The UK’s post-Brexit agreement allows fishermen to continue fishing in British waters provided they have a license and can prove they were fishing there previously.

However, the French are complaining that only around 50% of licenses have been issued.

French fishermen who have just returned from sea protesting with a fleet of fishing boats in the territorial waters of Jersey show a banner that reads 'Jersey government kill us' on May 6, 2021 in Granville, France

French fishermen returning from sea protesting with a fleet to Jersey’s territorial waters show a banner reading “Jersey government murder us” in Granville, France on May 6, 2021.

France is set to implement a go-slow strategy for customs checks on shipments bound for Britain ahead of Christmas as the row over post-Brexit fishing rights continues. Above: Trucks queuing to enter the port of Calais last year

France will soon implement a slow strategy to check customs on all shipments heading for Britain in the wake of the continuing row over post Brexit fishing rights. Above: Last year, trucks queuing up to enter Calais port.

Attal stated that he simply wanted the agreement to be respected at a Paris press conference on Wednesday.

“When we sign an agreement, as was the case with Brexit, the agreement must be complied with. Our patience is reaching its limit.

He said, “Matters have been clarified and we have made it clear that we will not be letting the British forget the Brexit agreement.”

175 French fishing boats are granted the right to fish six to twelve nautical miles from the British coast under the Brexit agreement. The UK has only issued 100 licences.

Paris also stated that only 105 licenses to fish off Jersey were given to French trawlermen, who had the right to 216.

Attal stated that the new retaliatory actions would begin on November 2.

Gabriel Attal (pictured), spokesman for the Macron administration, said on Wednesday that Britain's conduct over fishing rights in British waters following Brexit had led to the French 'losing patience'

Gabriel Attal (pictured), a spokesperson for the Macron administration said Wednesday that Britain’s conduct in relation to fishing rights in British waterways following Brexit had resulted in the French losing patience

He also stated that measures relating to electricity supply to the Channel Islands of Jersey or Guernsey could possibly be issued ‘in a few weeks’.

Clement Beaune, France’s European Affairs Minister, stated earlier this year that France was ready and able to exert all possible pressure on the UK.

Mr Beane said, “For example, you could picture the Channel Islands, where Britain depends on us for its electricity supply.”

Although he didn’t go any further, the warning reiterated Annick Girardin’s May threat that the fishing row could affect the ‘power supply by submarine cable’ from France and Jersey.

Discussing the dispute last month, a spokesman for Britain’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said tit had a ‘reasonable’ approach to the issuing of licences.

He stated that the government had issued a large number licenses this year to EU vessels wishing to fish in our exclusive economic area and our territorial waters.

“Our approach has been reasonable and fully consistent with our commitments in Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”

What is the secret to the Franco-British fishing row

France and Britain are at war over fishing rights in Channel. This row has caused major diplomatic friction. 

What caused the dispute?

Brexit is a simple word.

The January 1st, 2008 date of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union saw the end of agreements that were in place to manage fish stocks around the UK and Channel Islands.

Prior to Brexit, EU member countries including Britain had treaties as well as a joint fisheries strategy that allocated quotas from different stocks to each country’s fishing fleet.

These agreements allowed hundreds of EU vessels, mostly French, to access Britain’s fish-rich territorial waters, which are located between six and twelve miles from the coast.

What has changed?

The most difficult issue to resolve in the tense Brexit negotiations was fishing. Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, promised to regain ‘full command’ over British waters.

The two sides reached a compromise in December. EU boats will gradually surrender 25 percent of their current quotas during a five-and a half year transition period.

After this, there are annual negotiations about how much fish EU vessels may take from British waters.

The agreement required EU fishermen to apply for new licenses if they wanted to access British waters.

The licenses were issued for waters further away from Britain’s coast, which is between 12 and 200 nautical miles.

The track record of fishing workers between 2012 and 2016 was required.

And the Channel Islands.

They are an important part of the overall picture, although they are distinct.

Jersey is the largest Channel Island, which is self-governing.

They are not part the United Kingdom, but recognize Queen Elizabeth as their head and rely on Britain for defense and foreign relations.

Brexit also saw the end of the Granville Bay fishing agreement between France and Jersey. This had established rules and quotas to fish in the waters around the island.

French fishermen had to apply for new licences under the new rules. They would be granted these licenses if they could show that they had previously worked in Jersey waters.

Is there a row over the licencing process


The majority of EU boats have requested that Britain allow them to enter its exclusive economic zone.

The territorial waters licences are the source of tension.

According to French figures, 100 licenses have been issued to London to French boats to use these waters near its shore. 75 other requests are still pending.

French figures show that Jersey has issued 111 permanent licenses and 31 provisional licenses, while 75 boats were rejected.

Rejected French fishermen claim they are being unfairly limited by bureaucracy and red tape.

They claim that small boats do not have the GPS equipment necessary to prove their previous work, while others complain about difficulty in obtaining licenses for new vessels that have replaced older models.

Are there protests?

Yes. Yes.

Wednesday’s announcement by the French government was that it would increase customs controls and sanitary controls in trade with Britain and ban British seafood exports from French ports.

The measures will be in effect from Tuesday, April 22nd.

France also suggested that it might reduce electricity exports to Jersey or block negotiations between London, the EU and France on sensitive topics like trade in financial services.

Some French officials privately point out that Britain also depends on Paris to stop migrants and asylum seekers from illegally crossing the Channel into England.

What’s next?

French officials claim that since they began to pressurize Britain and Jersey publically over the last few month, more licenses were issued.

France is also trying get the rest of the European Union on its side.

Ten of the 26 EU members signed up for a statement condemning Britain’s ‘incomplete’ and ‘inappropriate’ response to fishing.

Experts do not see much hope for British-French relations to improve.

France is set to hold elections in April. President Emmanuel Macron wants to keep the politically strong and vocal fishing communities on his side.

Reporting by AFP news agency.