One UK fishing vessel has been detained by the French authorities and escorted to Le Havre, and a second has been fined, according to France’s Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin.
According to a statement by the Ministry, the detained vessel was not on the list of licences granted to the UK. A second vessel initially failed to comply with a request to board his vessel, and was given a verbal warning and fined for obstruction.
The detained vessel could forfeit its catch and remain held in Le Havre until a payment against fines has been paid.
These incidents took place during what the French Ministry states are routine checks in the Baie de Seine area north of Le Havre, and which are described as normal practice as the scallop season opens.
The Baie de Seine area with its rich scallop fishery has more than a few times been the scene of conflicts between French and UK fishing vessels, with a practically traditional raising of tensions every year around the opening of the winter scallop season.
This takes place against a wider backdrop of growing tensions between Britain and France over fisheries. France claims that Britain has failed to allocate the full number of licences warranted to French fishing vessels to operate in UK waters, and has threatened retaliatory measures as of 2nd November if no progress is made.
The UK position is that it has issued licences to vessels able to demonstrate a relevant track record of activity on the English side of the Channel.
Patience on the French side is wearing thin and Annick Girardin stated that the UK has granted only 90% of promised fishing licences, and, ‘Obviously, the missing 10% are French,’ adding that there are French fishermen have been sidelined for nine months as the UK has failed to keep it word.
‘Ça suffit,’ (That’s enough) stated the Minister, who has adopted an outspoken stance in support of the French fishing industry.