France fines British boats as fishing dispute escalates

Oct 27, 2021, 11:54 PM | Updated: Oct 28, 2021, 11:56 am
FILE - In this Thursday, May 6, 2021 file photo, fishing vessels at sea off the coast of Jersey. Fr...

FILE - In this Thursday, May 6, 2021 file photo, fishing vessels at sea off the coast of Jersey. French authorities fined two British fishing vessels and kept one in port overnight Thursday Oct. 28, 2021 amid a worsening dispute over fishing licenses that has stoked tensions following the U.K.'s departure from the European Union. (Oliver Pinel via AP, File)

(Oliver Pinel via AP, File)

LONDON (AP) — Britain said Thursday it would summon the French ambassador for a dressing-down, the latest move in a worsening dispute over fishing licenses that has stoked tensions following the U.K.’s departure from the European Union.

After French authorities fined two British fishing vessels and kept one in port overnight, Britain warned it would it retaliate if French officials followed through on threats to block British boats from some French ports and tighten checks on U.K. vessels unless French vessels get more permits to fish in U.K. waters. France also suggested it might restrict energy supplies to the Channel Islands, British Crown dependencies that lie off the coast of France.

“We believe these are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we’d expect from a close ally and partner,´´ U.K. Environment Secretary George Eustice told lawmakers, as Britain accused France of raising tensions.

Eustice said the threatened measures “do not appear to be compatible” with the Brexit divorce deal agreed by Britain and the EU “or wider international law, and if carried through will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.”

The reference to international law is sure to irk French officials, since EU nations have accused the U.K. of threatening to break the legally binding Brexit agreement it signed with the bloc setting out the conditions of its departure.

The U.K. government said France’s ambassador, Catherine Colonna, would be summoned to the Foreign Office, in an official sign of displeasure.

“We regret the confrontational language that has been consistently used by the French government on this issue, which makes this situation no easier to resolve,” the British government said in a statement.

Since the U.K. left the economic orbit of the EU in January, relations between London and Paris have become increasingly frayed as the nations on either side of the English Channel sort out a post-Brexit path.

France vehemently protested the decision last month by the U.K. and the Channel Island of Jersey to refuse dozens of French fishing boats licenses to operate in their territorial waters. Dozens of other licenses were granted. France says the restrictions are contrary to the post-Brexit agreement that Britain signed when it left the EU.

After weeks of negotiations, British authorities have issued more fishing licenses, but the number still only accounts for 50% of what France believes it “is entitled to,” French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Wednesday.

“We have worked with the British, we gave them all the requested data, documents, information to back these (license) requests,” Attal said. “Our patience has reached its limits.”

Britain disputes that. The government says it has granted 98% of fishing license applications from European vessels, but there is a dispute over 31 boats that the U.K. says did not supply evidence to support their applications.

It was against this backdrop that French authorities fined the two British boats, one for failing to comply with checks by police and the other for not holding a proper license. The French Sea Ministry said the fines resulted from bolstered boating and license checks.

“We have been extremely patient … our fishermen have been extremely responsible,” France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, told French TV news channel CNews. “And so, from Nov. 2, it’s over. We will engage in dialogue if the British want to, but we are taking retaliatory measures.”

As part of the retaliatory measures, France “doesn’t exclude” actions that would target energy supplies to Britain, Beaune and French Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin said in a joint statement. Attal said the threat applied to the Channel Islands, which rely heavily on French electricity.

“To be very frank, I’m not happy about these measures,” Beaune later said at an event organized by the European Policy Center think tank. “We have to defend a very clear specific interest — fisheries — because it’s important and there is no reason why we should sacrifice it.”

“Either we increase (the retaliation) if the situation deteriorates, or we withdraw if the situation improves, it’s as simple as that,” he added.

Jersey, which is only 14 miles (22 kilometers) off the French coast, is a British Crown dependency outside of the U.K and can decide who is allowed to fish in its territorial waters. It has granted licenses based on its interpretation of the U.K.-EU trade deal and has accused France of acting disproportionately.

Barrie Deas, from the U.K.’s National Federation of Fishermen’s Organizations, called the “tit-for-tat” actions “unhelpful.´´

“It may be normal enforcement action, but against the background of the threatening noises coming from the French government, it’s very concerning,´´ Deas told the BBC. “France seems determined to escalate this issue about licenses, and I suppose we have to wonder why.”

___

Adamson reported from Paris. Samuel Petrequin contributed to this story from Brussels.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of Brexit at https://apnews.com/hub/brexit

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

BP oil spill fund: $103M to projects in 3 Gulf states

Alabama, Florida and Mississippi are receiving more than $103 million in BP oil spill settlement money for new and continued coastal projects. “These projects, combined with existing investments, continue to advance our goal of protecting and restoring species and habitats impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of […]
7 hours ago
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, file photo, Stacey Abrams speaks to Biden supporters as they w...
Associated Press

2nd Stacey Abrams governor bid sees new tests, intrigues

ATLANTA (AP) — Stacey Abrams announced a long-awaited second run for Georgia governor this week, but with Democrats facing a sour national environment and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp facing challenges within his own party, the 2022 campaign will look different from 2018. Abrams’ narrow loss, highlighted by her claims that Kemp used his prior post […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Allen Toussaint performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Satu...
Associated Press

New Orleans: Push to rename Lee boulevard after Toussaint

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A member of the New Orleans city council is pushing to change a street currently named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and replace it with one the city’s most famous musicians, Allen Toussaint, who died in 2015. Councilmember Jared C. Brossett introduced an ordinance to rename the street that goes […]
7 hours ago
In this courtroom sketch, defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca, left, confers with Ghislaine Maxwell a...
Associated Press

Scenes from Week 1 of Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-abuse trial

NEW YORK (AP) — The first week of the sex-abuse trial of Ghislaine Maxwell saw the first of her four main accusers taking the witness stand to give emotional testimony accusing the British socialite of coaxing her — at just 14 — into sexual encounters with financier Jeffrey Epstein. The jury at the federal trial […]
7 hours ago
Dawn Neptune Adams holds a copy of the Phips Proclamation of 1755, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, in Bango...
Associated Press

Penobscots don’t want ancestors’ scalping to be whitewashed

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Most Americans know Native Americans endured atrocities after the arrival of European settlers: wars, disease, stolen land. But it’s far uglier than that. Members of the Penobscot Nation in Maine have produced an educational film addressing how European settlers scalped — killed — Indigenous people during the British colonial era, spurred […]
7 hours ago
Pope Francis delivers his speech during a meeting with authorities, at the Presidential Palace, in ...
Associated Press

In democracy’s birthplace, pope warns of populist threats

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Pope Francis warned Saturday that the “easy answers” of populism and authoritarianism threaten democracy in Europe and called for fresh dedication to promoting the common good. Arriving in Greece, the birthplace of democracy, Francis used a speech to Greek political and cultural leaders to address Europe at large about the threats […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Canvas Annuity

Annuity basics: how to retire with a guaranteed paycheck for life

Does the thought of retirement fill you with stress or with happiness? Everyone wants to spend their retirement in a way that brings them the most joy, whether that’s traveling the world or spending extra time at home with grandkids.
...
Arizona State University

Gain insights on next year’s trends at 58th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon

Employment is recovering from the severe contraction induced by the pandemic, but it is still way below levels at the start of 2020. Can it fully recover in the coming year?
...
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
France fines British boats as fishing dispute escalates