UK fishing boat captain to face trial in France

British fishermen stand on the trawler 'Cornelis-Gert Jan' in the harbour of Le Havre after it was detained by French authorities.
British fishermen stand on the trawler 'Cornelis-Gert Jan' in the harbour of Le Havre after it was detained by French authorities. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP.
The captain of a British fishing boat detained by French authorities amid a deepening post-Brexit row over access to territorial waters will be tried in August 2022, prosecutors said on Friday.

Maritime police ordered the boat sequestered at the Channel port of Le Havre on Wednesday, saying a spot check revealed it had gathered more than two tons of scallops in French waters without a proper licence.

“The captain of the Cornelis Gert Jan has been summoned to appear at a court hearing in Le Havre on August 11, 2022,” the city’s deputy prosecutor, Cyrille Fournier, said in a statement.

He faces charges of “non-authorised fishing in French waters by a boat from outside the European Union,” he added, which carry a maximum fine of €75,000 as well as “administrative penalties”.

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The owner of the trawler said on Thursday that it was fishing legally in French waters, alleging that the fine appeared to be “politically motivated”.

“We’ve not had this issue” previously, Andrew Brown, a director at Scotland-based Macduff Shellfish, told AFP, adding they had not yet been able to contact French authorities.

Britain and France  are at loggerheads over licensing rules for EU boats wanting to operate in waters around Britain and the particularly Channel Islands.

EXPLAINED: Why are France and the UK fighting about fish?

Paris has warned that it will ban UK boats from unloading their catches at French ports starting November 2nd, and impose time-consuming customs and sanitary checks on all products brought to France from Britain.

French fishermen accuse officials in Britain as well as its protectorate of Jersey of using Brexit as an excuse to keep many from securing licences for waters they say they have plied for years.

London has denied the claims, and promised “an appropriate and calibrated response” to the French measures, since the British fishing industry depends on French ports as a gateway to Europe, its main export market.

Britain has summoned the French ambassador to explain “threats” made over the post-Brexit fishing rights.

Member comments

  1. I’m fed up with the problem this dispute is causing done some research.
    Why use Jersey to sort out this problem?
    Both governments are to blame but in different ways – This is one of many smoke screens by Johnson while he and his cabinet shape British policies out of parliamentary discussion, He is fast becoming the author of many policies without governmental approval, even the speaker of the house of commons has spoken sharply to the Chancellor for breaking budget rules (the last Chancellor to do this was sacked and put on the back benches) but He’s still there.
    The French on the other hand are looking towards presidential elections and are looking for favour and support amongst many other ploys.
    May be the answer is to get the fishermen on both sides to sort this out between them round an official disputes procedure without political intervention, they would probably do a much better job

  2. The printed licence was issued in Dec 2020. Macduff fisheries is the biggest shellfish processor in Europe. They don’t fish illegally.

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