France detains UK boat as spat over fishing rights escalates

French authorities stopped and fined two British vessels fishing in French waters Wednesday, diverting one to a French port, the French Minister for the Sea Annick Girardin tweeted early Thursday morning.

One of the boats was not listed on the European Union’s approved list of UK fishing vessels, and the regional government director “immediately issued” an order to divert the vessel to the French port of Le Havre, the statement said.

The other boat was fined for not complying with orders to allow French authorities to board the vessel to conduct checks, the statement tweeted by Girardin said. Additional checks by French maritime gendarmes found no further infraction of fishing regulations.

The boats were stopped off the coast of Le Havre, in the English Channel.

Legal proceedings could see the first vessel’s catch and the boat itself confiscated against the payment of bail, the statement said, adding that, “the captain of the fishing vessel risks criminal sanctions.”

The minister tweeted that the French patrol that stopped the vessels “fits within the framework of the hardening of controls in the Channel” in the context of fishing license discussions with the UK.

The fines represent the latest round of tensions in long-running disputes between the UK and France over the rights of French and British vessels to fish in each country’s waters following the Brexit deal.

Girardin is set to announce on Thursday retaliatory measures against the UK for not granting sufficient licenses to French fishing vessels.

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