A BRITISH trawler which was impounded by France amid a post-Brexit fishing rights dispute has arrived in the UK.

The scallop dredger Cornelis Gert Jan left Le Havre on Wednesday after being held there since last week, when France accused it of fishing in its waters without a proper licence.

The Scottish-registered trawler departed after dusk and docked in Shoreham at 4.46am on Thursday, according to MarineTraffic.com.

The public affairs director of the vessel’s owner Macduff Shellfish confirmed it has been released by French authorities.

“The court (of appeal) determined that no bond was required for the release of the vessel,” Andrew Brown said.

“We are pleased to have this matter resolved and delighted that our crew and vessel are now able to return home. The crew have acted with calmness and professionalism throughout the entire incident.

“They are in good spirits, looking forward to return to their loved ones and are grateful for all the messages of support received from the British public.”

The Argus: The boat’s captain Jondy Ward The boat’s captain Jondy Ward

The ruling came after the boat’s captain, Jondy Ward, appeared at the Court of Appeal in Rouen on Wednesday.

Mr Ward explained that French maritime police detained the trawler last week for not being on a European register when it was fishing off the Normandy coast.

The skipper said he did not know if it was an error on the part of UK or French officials.

“We had everything in order on the bridge, as far as I was concerned, we had everything in place to be legal,” he said.

He said the boat was “definitely” caught in the middle of the Franco-British spat over post-Brexit fishing arrangements.

His lawyer Mathieu Croix said it ship was caught in a “political game”.

“In fact, it is a rather mundane affair over fishing in an area that is supposedly out of bounds, and about licences that may or may not have been given and catch amounts that are relatively modest.”

The Argus: Scallop dredger Cornelis Gert Jan in Le Havre, France Scallop dredger Cornelis Gert Jan in Le Havre, France

It comes as Lord Frost prepares to meet France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune in Paris in an attempt to end the crisis in cross-Channel relations.

France has threatened sanctions over what it perceives as a refusal to issue licences to its trawlers to operate in UK waters.

The UK government insisted the overwhelming majority of applications for licences have been granted.

French president Emmanuel Macron has delayed the imposition of punitive measures while talks between the UK, France and the European Commission take place.

But the French government has insisted the measures – which could include a ban on British trawlers landing their catches in French ports and tighter customs checks to hamper cross-Channel trade – remain “on the table” if a deal cannot be reached.

Under the Brexit deal, European Union boats which can show they have fished in British waters in at least four of the years from 2012 to 2016 are eligible for a licence.

A total of 1,831 applications for licences have been received, with 1,793 issued.