‘It won’t end well’: French fishermen gloomy over latest high seas spat with Britain

French fishermen called for restrictions on British vessels in light of the dispute

Zoe Tidman
In Le Havre
Saturday 30 October 2021 11:15
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UK vows retaliation to French fishing threats amid post-Brexit row
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The escalating fishing row between the UK and France “will not end well” and a solution needs to be found before any further hostilities, fishermen in the French city where a British fishing boat is being held have warned.

Andre Tesson told The Independent from behind a stall at a local fishing market that he did not think English boats should be fishing in French waters, if the reverse is not allowed.

As he handled fish at his stall in Le Havre, a British fishing boat was at a standstill a few miles away on the other side of the port.

The Cornelis scallop vessel remained quiet in the harbour on Friday, two days after it was detained by French authorities for allegedly not having the right licence to fish in French waters – a charge its British owner has denied.

Elsewhere, the UK and French governments have been exchanging threats over post-Brexit fishing rights as the rhetoric between the two countries continued on Friday, which seemed to suggest a full-blown fishing dispute is almost inevitable.

Britain summoned the French ambassador on Friday and the UK Brexit minister David Frost warned that all European Union boats, not just French ones, could be boarded by the Royal Navy in British waters if the dispute worsened.

In a London meeting with EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic, Lord Frost, one of the architects of the Brexit treaty which has imposed the latest rules on fishing access, called the French action “unjustified”.

France has warned that from Tuesday it will start enforcing tougher customs checks on British vessels.

But shrugging off the simmering row, Mr Tesson told The Independent: “It is not the first time.”

But even so, he thinks the governments “should find a solution”.

“Because if us from one side, we can’t fish on the English side, and they on one side come and fish in ours, it’s natural for there to be some repercussions after.”

Philippe Filou and Mattihieu Tierselin in Le Havre

He added that he did not think it was right for British boats to fish in French waters, while French boats cannot do the same in UK ones.

France has claimed it has not been granted enough licences to operate in UK and Jersey waters, following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Paris has threatened to block British boats from some ports and tighten checks on boats going between the two countries, while the UK has summoned the French ambassador in a bid to settle the dispute.

“I don’t think it is going to end well,” said Philippe Filou, who runs a fishing equipment shop in Le Havre.

Mattihieu Tierselin, who works in the same shop, said he would rather preserve resources instead of concentrating on this “little squabble”.

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