France reportedly detained a British fishing vessel this week as part of an ongoing spat with the United Kingdom over post-Brexit fishing rights.
France's European affairs minister, Clement Beaune, also confirmed that the majority of French ports would no longer be accessible to British boats. Beaune added that three to four ports would remain open to British fishing vessels when the closure takes into effect.
According to France's European affairs minister, they detained two British fishing vessels because they did not respect the rules. One of the vessels was redirected to a French port, and both were also fined.
The second fishing vessel was not registered on the European Union's approved list of UK fishing vessels and was diverted to the French Port of Le Havre, according to CNN.
Owner of fishing vessel slams France
Andrew Brown, director of Macduff Shellfish that owns the detained vessel, claimed that the boat is being used as a pawn in an ongoing dispute between France and Britain.
"On 27 October, Macduff's scallop vessel Cornelis was boarded by the French authorities and ordered into the French port of Le Havre while legally fishing for a scallop in French waters. Access to French waters for the UK scallop fleet is provided under Brexit Fisheries Agreement. Macduff's fishing activity is entirely legal," Brown said via Sky News.
Brown added that they are urging the UK government to defend the rights of those working in the fishing industry. They also hope that their fishing rights provided under the Brexit Fisheries Agreement will be respected by the European Union.
Britain responded to the report by saying that they were investigating the matter. After all, Environment Minister George Eustice said that he saw conflicting information regarding the seized vessel.
United Kingdom announces their fishing restrictions
Last month, the United Kingdom was first to announce its decision to allow only a handful of smaller French boats to fish in their coastal water due to the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Following EU and the UK's separation, the former's boats could only fish in the latter's 6 to 12 nautical mile coastal zone and only if they could demonstrate a proven record of fishing in those areas, according to the Financial Times.
British officials said that they came to a decision after thoroughly investigating the data provided by smaller fishing vessels. The deal also requires boats to prove that they've fished within the zone at least once a year in four of the five years between 2012 and 2016.
France's maritime minister criticizes the United Kingdom
At the time, Annick Girardin, France's maritime minister, condemned the UK's rule. She said that the new rule shows that the British do not want to implement the original conditions of the Brexit agreement despite all the work they have accomplished together.
Girardin added that Britons should not take French fishing hostage for their political gains. But just weeks later, the EU seemingly retaliated against the United Kingdom by detaining two fishing vessels from the country.