British Environment Minister George Eustice reports that a British boat that caught oysters in French waters and was seized was allowed to leave the port of Le Havre. However, the ship’s Scottish owner says Cornelis Gert Jan will remain in port at least until tomorrow, until a hearing on the matter is held.
The ship was seized by French authorities last week amid disputes over fishing rights between France and the United Kingdom. According to the French, the boat did not have the required license, and therefore was fishing illegally. The ship could face a fine of 75,000 euros. Another boat was fined for not allowing French inspectors to board. The British claim it was leverage from France in the ensuing row over allowing fishermen into each other’s waters after Brexit.
France complains that French fishermen have not been granted the agreed number of permits to fish in British waters since the EU-UK trade agreement. The British say 98 per cent of the licenses they applied for were granted to EU fishermen, but the French are skeptical of those numbers and say their country gets relatively fewer licenses than other EU countries. The UK says permits will only be denied if fishermen are unable or unwilling to prove they have fished in those waters before.
Talks between France and the UK to resolve the issue have been going on for months, with threats going back and forth. in May French fishermen have closed the Channel Island port of Jersey in protest of the number of permits. From there the ships of the British Navy and then the French patrol boats approached, but there was no confrontation.
French President Macron issued an ultimatum to reach an agreement by midnight Monday. Otherwise, France will ban British ships and trucks from some French ports and impose stricter controls. France will also reduce electricity supplies to the British Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.
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