UK fishing boat captain to face trial in France

The captain of a British fishing boat detained by French authorities amid a deepening post-Brexit row over access to territorial waters will be tried in August 2022, prosecutors said on Friday.

British fishermen stand on the trawler 'Cornelis-Gert Jan' in the harbour of Le Havre after it was detained by French authorities.
British fishermen stand on the trawler 'Cornelis-Gert Jan' in the harbour of Le Havre after it was detained by French authorities. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP.

Maritime police ordered the boat sequestered at the Channel port of Le Havre on Wednesday, saying a spot check revealed it had gathered more than two tons of scallops in French waters without a proper licence.

“The captain of the Cornelis Gert Jan has been summoned to appear at a court hearing in Le Havre on August 11, 2022,” the city’s deputy prosecutor, Cyrille Fournier, said in a statement.

He faces charges of “non-authorised fishing in French waters by a boat from outside the European Union,” he added, which carry a maximum fine of €75,000 as well as “administrative penalties”.

The owner of the trawler said on Thursday that it was fishing legally in French waters, alleging that the fine appeared to be “politically motivated”.

“We’ve not had this issue” previously, Andrew Brown, a director at Scotland-based Macduff Shellfish, told AFP, adding they had not yet been able to contact French authorities.

Britain and France  are at loggerheads over licensing rules for EU boats wanting to operate in waters around Britain and the particularly Channel Islands.

EXPLAINED: Why are France and the UK fighting about fish?

Paris has warned that it will ban UK boats from unloading their catches at French ports starting November 2nd, and impose time-consuming customs and sanitary checks on all products brought to France from Britain.

French fishermen accuse officials in Britain as well as its protectorate of Jersey of using Brexit as an excuse to keep many from securing licences for waters they say they have plied for years.

London has denied the claims, and promised “an appropriate and calibrated response” to the French measures, since the British fishing industry depends on French ports as a gateway to Europe, its main export market.

Britain has summoned the French ambassador to explain “threats” made over the post-Brexit fishing rights.

Member comments

  1. The printed licence was issued in Dec 2020. Macduff fisheries is the biggest shellfish processor in Europe. They don’t fish illegally.

  2. I’m fed up with the problem this dispute is causing done some research.
    Why use Jersey to sort out this problem?
    Both governments are to blame but in different ways – This is one of many smoke screens by Johnson while he and his cabinet shape British policies out of parliamentary discussion, He is fast becoming the author of many policies without governmental approval, even the speaker of the house of commons has spoken sharply to the Chancellor for breaking budget rules (the last Chancellor to do this was sacked and put on the back benches) but He’s still there.
    The French on the other hand are looking towards presidential elections and are looking for favour and support amongst many other ploys.
    May be the answer is to get the fishermen on both sides to sort this out between them round an official disputes procedure without political intervention, they would probably do a much better job

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French government aims to block ‘burkinis’ in swimming pools

France's interior minister said on Tuesday that he would seek to overturn a rule change in the city of Grenoble that would allow women to wear burkinis in state-run swimming pools.

French government aims to block 'burkinis' in swimming pools

The all-in-one swimsuit, used by some Muslim women to cover their bodies and hair while bathing, is a controversial issue in France where critics see it as a symbol of creeping Islamisation.

The Alpine city of Grenoble changed its swimming pool rules on Monday to allow all types of bathing suits, not just traditional swimming costumes for women and trunks for men which were mandated before.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called the change an “unacceptable provocation” that was “contrary to our values”, adding that he had asked for a legal challenge to the new regulations.

Under a new law to counter “Islamist separatism” passed by parliament last year, the government can challenge decisions it suspects of undermining France’s strict secular traditions that are meant to separate religions from the state.

Attempts by several local mayors in the south of France to ban the burkini on Mediterranean beaches in the summer of 2016 kicked off the first firestorm around the bathing suit.

The restrictions were eventually overturned for being discriminatory.

Grenoble’s mayor Eric Piolle, one of the country’s highest profile Green politicians who leads a broad left-wing coalition locally, has championed the city’s move as a victory.

“All we want is for women and men to be able to dress how they want,” Piolle told broadcaster RMC on Monday.

The head of the EELV party, Julien Bayou, argued that the decision had nothing to do with secularism laws, which oblige state officials to be neutral in religious matters but guarantee the rights of citizens to practice their faith freely.

Burkinis are not banned in French state-run pools on religious grounds, but for hygiene reasons, while swimmers are not under any legal obligation to hide their religion while bathing.

“I want Muslim women to be able to practice their religion, or change it, or not believe, and I would like them to be able to go swimming,” he added. “I want them also to suffer less demands to dress in one way or another.”

Grenoble is not the first French city to change its rules.

The northwestern city of Rennes quietly updated its pool code in 2019 to allow burkinis and other types of swimwear.