The measures would include “systematic customs and sanitary checks on products brought to France and a ban on landing seafood,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters.
Speaking after the regular Wednesday meeting of the Council of Ministers, Attal told reporters that several meetings had been held within the government to plan a list of measures in response to the post-Brexit fishing dispute.
The measures were later published by Europe Minister Clément Beaune, who tweeted: “French and EU fishermen must not be the adjustment variable of Brexit.
“We are announcing retaliatory measures to protect our fishermen, starting on November 2nd. The dialogue remains open but we will always defend our interests.”
❗️On l’a dit, on le fait. Les pêcheurs 🇫🇷🇪🇺 ne seront pas la variable d’ajustement du #Brexit.
Avec @AnnickGirardin, nous annonçons des mesures de rétorsion pour protéger nos pêcheurs, à partir du 2 novembre. Le dialogue reste ouvert mais nous défendrons toujours nos intérêts ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/6cFO0qI4gq
— Clement Beaune (@CBeaune) October 27, 2021
The measures that France intends to take from November 2nd are;
- A ban on the landing of British fishing vessels in designated ports
- Reinforcement of border customs and health checks
- Systematic checks of British fishing boats
- Reinforcement of checks on all lorries travelling to and from the UK
Beaune added that a second set of measures are “being prepared” and do not exclude reducing energy supplies to the UK.
Speaking to CNews on Thursday morning, Beaune said there would be strict and systematic checks on paperwork of British boats with “no tolerance, no exceptions” for those who did not have the correct documents, adding that the same regime would be imposed on lorries going to or from the UK.
He said: “We have been extremely patient, our fishermen have been responsible. That is over, from November 2nd we will begin to take retaliatory measures.”
#Pêche | « Nous avons été patients, nos pêcheurs ont été responsables. C’est terminé : à partir du 2 novembre, nous prenons des mesures de rétorsion. » 🇫🇷🇪🇺@LaurenceFerrari @CNEWS pic.twitter.com/P0rELqWFQz
— Clement Beaune (@CBeaune) October 28, 2021
Also on Thursday, extra checks on British boats fishing in French waters were carried out, with one trawler detained and taken to Le Havre, accused of fishing for scallops without a licence.
Andrew Brown, director of sustainability and public affairs at Macduff Shellfish based at Mintlaw in Aberdeenshire in northeastern Scotland, confirmed to AFP that its trawler was detained while fishing for scallops.
“It does seem to be a misunderstanding. We believe we have been fishing legally in French waters,” Brown said by telephone.
Access to the waters is “a little bit complicated”, but they opened for fishing earlier this month, he said.
“I suspect it is politically motivated”, he added, since “we’ve not had this issue” previously.
The latest spat between the neighbours has been caused by licensing procedures for EU fishing boats wanting to operate in British waters after Brexit.
France has been incensed by the rejection of dozens of French boats by Britain, as well as by the self-governing Channels islands of Jersey and Guernsey, which depend on London for defence and foreign affairs.
French customs checks have the potential to seriously slow down trade to and from the UK.
British fishermen are also highly dependent on French ports where much of their catch is landed and processed.
Under the post-Brexit deal on fishing, EU fishermen wishing to access British seas had to apply for new licences which would be granted providing they could prove that they had worked in British waters in previous years.
Britain has granted nearly 1,700 licences to EU boats to fish in waters classed as being part of its exclusive economic zone, meaning those 12-200 nautical miles from the coast.
The tension is over licences to operate in Britain’s fish-rich territorial waters, which lie 6-12 nautical miles from the coast, as well as the waters close to Jersey.
London has issued 100 licences to French boats for its territorial waters, while 75 have been rejected, according to figures from the beginning of October.
For Jersey, 111 permanent licences and 31 provisional licences have been issued, while 75 boats have been rejected.