FRENCH authorities have detained a trawler from Shoreham amid an ongoing dispute over fishing rights.

The boat, named the Cornelis Gert Jan, was ordered by the French maritime ministry to divert to Le Havre after it was found not to hold a proper licence.

Members of the fishing industry said the incident has been “politicised” by the French, who are “determined” to escalate the issue.

The Argus: A boat from Shoreham has been detained by French authoritiesA boat from Shoreham has been detained by French authorities

The owner of the Cornelis, Macduff Shellfish, said the vessel had been fishing legally in French waters and called on the UK Government to protect the rights of British fishermen.

Andrew Brown, director of sustainability and public affairs at Macduff, said: “It appears our vessel has been caught up in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France on the implementation of the Brexit fishing agreement.”

A second trawler was fined for obstructing checks after it initially refused a request to be boarded by police, a statement posted by French maritime Minister Annick Girardin said.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is to challenge Paris’s ambassador to the UK Catherine Colonna on France’s intentions on later this after taking the rare step of ordering an allied nation’s envoy to be summoned.

French ministers have warned they will block British boats from some French ports and tighten checks on vessels travelling between France and the UK if the issue is not resolved by Tuesday – as well as threatening the electricity supply to the Channel Islands.

Environment Secretary George Eustice did not rule out blocking French vessels in return as he struck out at a claim from France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune that the only language Britain understands is “the language of force”.

Mr Eustice told BBC Breakfast: “That is completely inflammatory and is the wrong way to go about things.”

Asked how the UK will respond if France does go ahead and block British trawlers, the Cabinet minister said: “Two can play at that game.”

He insisted any British response would be “proportionate”, adding: “It’s always open to us to increase the enforcement we do on French vessels, to board more of them if that’s what they’re doing to our vessels – there are other administrative things we can require of vessels.”

Pressed if the Government could block French vessels landing their catches in the UK, he responded: “If the French obviously do continue with this, then yes, we will take a proportionate response to that.”

Britain has said France’s threat would likely breach EU law and Ms Truss has said she will ask the ambassador “to explain the disappointing and disproportionate threats made against the UK and Channel Islands”.

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