France summons captain of seized British fishing boat to court as UK warns ‘two can play this game’ ::


– The captain of a British fishing trawler detained in France has been ordered to appear in a French court over allegations of illegal fishing, as the war of words between the two countries over post-Brexit fishing rights escalated intensified on Friday.

French authorities seized the ship, fined another British boat and announced on Thursday the closure of almost all French ports to British trawlers, a major escalation in the long-running feud between the allies.

French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said in an interview with French television channel CNEWS that with a few exceptions, all French ports will no longer be accessible to British boats, referring to vessels that unload fish and some products.

The captain of the Cornelis, Gert Jan, is due to appear in court on August 11, 2022 for “alleged unauthorized fishing by a non-European vessel in French maritime waters”, according to a statement from assistant prosecutor Cyrille Fournier.

“During the inspection, the captain of the vessel was not in possession of the authorization required to fish in the French exclusive economic zone,” Fournier said in a statement.

Juliette Hatchman, CEO of the South West Fish Producers Organization, told CNN she believed the vessel’s crew were “in possession of the appropriate license to fish in European Union waters and were therefore fishing completely legally. at the time of the arrest by the French authorities”. However, Hatchman noted that it “appeared the vessel may have been omitted from an approved British list”.

The latest French measures come in response to the British government’s refusal to grant post-Brexit fishing licenses to several French fishermen. A spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters on Tuesday that as of October 1, the UK had granted licenses to 15 of the 47 small French vessels that had applied to fish in British territorial waters.

Of the remaining vessels, France agreed to cancel the claims of 17 vessels whose evidence of fishing activity in UK waters before Brexit was considered poor, the spokesperson said.

‘Two can play this game,’ UK says

Britain’s Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Friday the UK government ‘reserves the option to respond proportionately’ to France’s retaliatory measures, telling Sky News that ‘two can play this game’ .

“The things they suggest we do – which is basically to start being tough on the borders and closing the ports etc. – it’s a clear break not only with the trade and cooperation agreement that we have with them, but also EU law,” Eustice said. “The comments that have been made by France on this are totally disproportionate. They are unacceptable.”

Eustice added that the latest incident involves a “very small number of vessels that are simply not eligible under the terms of the agreement” reached.

A UK government spokesman said: “We reiterate that the government has granted 98% of EU vessel license applications to fish in UK waters and, as has always been clear, will consider any further evidence. on the rest.”

French Sea Minister Annick Girardin said the boat arrested on Thursday was not on the EU-approved list of British fishing vessels, and the regional government director ‘immediately issued’ an order to divert the vessel. ship to the French port of Le Havre. A second boat was fined for failing to comply with orders allowing French authorities to board the vessel to carry out checks, the statement tweeted by Girardin said. Additional checks by the French maritime gendarmes revealed no other breaches of fishing regulations.

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