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

Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas is shown during the playing of the national anthem before a swim meet, Sa...
Associated Press

Penn pledges to work with NCAA, support transgender swimmer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The University of Pennsylvania said it will work with the NCAA under its newly adopted standards for transgender athletes. Swimmer Lia Thomas, who competed for the men’s team at Penn before transitioning, has qualified to compete in March at the 2022 NCAA swimming and diving championships. She is set to race in […]
19 hours ago
FILE - A man walks by the logo on a Toyota car at a showroom in Tokyo on Oct. 18, 2021. The shortag...
Associated Press

Toyota production in Japan hit by parts crunch from COVID-19

TOKYO (AP) — The shortage of parts caused by the coronavirus pandemic is further denting production at Toyota, Japan’s top automaker. Production at 11 plants in Japan will be halted Friday, Saturday and next Monday, Toyota Motor Corp. said. That comes on top of reductions planned for February that were announced earlier. Those reduction will […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Advocacy group: Internet down across Yemen after airstrike

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Yemen lost its connection to the internet nationwide early Friday after Saudi-led airstrikes targeted a site in the contested city of Hodeida, an advocacy group said. NetBlocks.org said the connection dropped out around 3 a.m. local. It said Yemen was “in the midst of a nation-scale internet blackout following […]
19 hours ago
FILE - People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on a st...
Associated Press

Japan widens virus restrictions as omicron surges in cities

TOKYO (AP) — Restaurants and bars will close early in Tokyo and a dozen other areas across Japan beginning Friday as Japan widens COVID-19 restrictions due to the omicron variant causing cases to surge to new highs in metropolitan areas. The restraint, which is something of a pre-state of emergency, is the first since September […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters during a news briefing on Tuesday, Sept. 14,...
Associated Press

Alaska governor: Work with Murkowski endures after Trump nod

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he doesn’t see his acceptance of former President Donald Trump’s endorsement as hurting his relationship with the state’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial last year and whose reelection bid Trump has vowed to fight. Trump […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Arizona man accused in Oath Keepers plot jailed until trial

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix man accused of coordinating teams that were on standby to deliver guns to members and associates of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot will remain jailed until his trial on seditious conspiracy and other charges, a judge in Arizona ruled Thursday. U.S. Magistrate Judge […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Arizona State University

This is the best year to get your MBA

Getting a master’s degree is a major commitment of time, energy, and money, so returning to school — even if you’re thinking about a part-time program that allows you to keep working — is one of the biggest decisions of your career.
...
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.
...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
France fines British boats as fishing dispute escalates