France fines two British fishing boats after checks

Two British fishing vessels were fined by the French maritime police during checks on Wednesday, the French maritime minister said, as a smouldering row between London and Paris over post-Brexit fishing rights flared up again.

Annick Girardin said on Twitter that although the checks on the British boats were standard during the scallop fishing season, they had also been launched against “the backdrop of the tightening of controls in the Channel, in the context of discussions on licenses with the United Kingdom and the European Commission”.

Earlier on Wednesday, prompted by disagreement over licensing rules for EU fishing boats wanting to operate in waters around Britain and the Channel Islands after Brexit, France threatened trade disruptions from November 2 if its boats are not granted more access to British waters. 

Paris has been incensed by the rejection of French boats by Britain and the self-governing Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, which depend on London for defence and foreign affairs. 

Girardin said that one of the British boats was caught fishing in the Bay of Seine without the proper licences.

The boat and its crew were escorted to the port of Le Havre by the maritime police, where their catch could be confiscated and the boat held. The owner also risks penal sanctions.

Girardin said the other boat had been fined for initially resisting the check.