The detention of a British fishing vessel by the French is a political decision and not the start of a new round of “scallop wars”, said a British leader in the fishing industry.
Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organizations (NFFO), said he believed the argument was a “technical problem” with the licensing and did not expect the price to escalate. situation.
Mr. Deas said I: “There is a presidential election in France.
“Maybe it’s about being seen as supporting fishermen. Choosing a fight with the UK plays into this narrative.
“It doesn’t make sense to do what they did. It is a technical problem. If you take this tit-for-tat approach, the French have a lot more to lose – they fish more in our waters than we do in theirs. They are vulnerable and exposed.
“This is political rhetoric. The tone is confrontational – it seems to me that this is for a political purpose.
France arrested a British trawler and gave a verbal warning to another after they were found in fishing waters off the French coast during checks off Le Havre in Normandy, authorities said.
French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said one did not “comply” while another “did not have a license to fish in our waters”.
The British boat taken to a French port is said to be a scallop trawler from Shoreham, Sussex.
In 2018, “scallop wars” erupted between the British and French fleets over post-Brexit fishing rights.
France has long sought better access to British fishing waters and was irritated by a decision by the United Kingdom and Jersey last month to deny fishing licenses to dozens of French vessels.
On Wednesday, the French government issued an ultimatum and said it would start imposing “targeted measures” from Tuesday next week if the UK did not change its tone.
But Mr Deas said he heard from ministers that the talks had “progressed well” and that the complications were all part of the post-Brexit “adjustments”.
He added: “I think issues like this are only part of the adjustment. There’s a lot of politics going on, but holding ships doesn’t make sense.
Defra said that 98 percent of the licenses requested have been granted to EU vessels and the same goes the other way around. Nothing needs stepping up, things are working fine and discussions were constructive.
“The fishermen just want to continue. Nobody wants difficulties because there would be no winners. It is about trade. I think it was a higher level issue for political gain.
A Defra spokesperson said I: “We are aware of reports of law enforcement activities carried out by the French authorities and we are investigating the issues urgently. “