In the midst of an increasing fight over post-Brexit fishing rights, France has detained a British trawler and penalized another.
The ships were warned during nightly checks off the coast of Le Havre, according to French marine minister Annick Girardin.
She said the first did not cooperate immediately away, and the second was arrested because he was not licensed to fish in French waters.
Lord Frost, the Brexit Minister, said on Wednesday that French threats to bar UK boats from entering ports were “disappointing.”
Ms Girardin said on Twitter that one of the British trawlers was captured fishing without the required licenses in the Bay of Seine.
She said the boat was taken to the port of Le Havre and detained by judicial authorities, who threatened to confiscate their catch and keep the boat until a deposit was paid.
The skipper of the boat might face criminal charges as well.
Meanwhile, Ms Girardin noted, the other boat was penalized for first rejecting the examination.
During the scallop fishing season, the minister added, checks on British vessels are routine.
However, she said that they were carried out “in the context of negotiations on licensing with the United Kingdom and the European Commission, as well as the strengthening of controls in the Channel.”
A “tit for tat” relationship between the UK and France, according to Barrie Deas of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, the organisation that represents fishermen in England, is “unhelpful.”
Mr Deas told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the enforcement operations were “routine” but “extremely alarming” in light of the threats made by the French government.
He said that more French boats fish in British seas than UK vessels do, and that a “tit for tat” relationship was not “useful” and would expose the French fleet “far more.”
France had warned that if a post-Brexit issue over fishing licenses was not settled by November 2nd, it will prohibit British vessels from several ports and intensify checks on UK boats and lorries.
France’s threats, according to the UK, are “disproportionate” and a violation of international law and trade accords.
Lord Frost said before the new development that the government was seeking “immediate clarity” of France’s plans and will “consider what additional action is necessary in light of that.”
France was enraged by the UK and Jersey’s decision last month to refuse fishing licenses to hundreds of French boats, claiming it violated the Brexit pact.
France threatened to shut off Jersey’s energy supply in response when French trawlers protested outside the port of St Helier in Jersey, a British Crown territory.
France said it was planning more consequences, including stopping electrical supply to Jersey, a British Crown territory, as it had warned in May.
“The French state will continue to assist its fishing industry,” the ministry stated, adding that it expects responses from the United Kingdom “in the coming days.”
“It is extremely sad that France has deemed it necessary to make threats late this evening against the UK fishing sector and presumably traders more broadly,” Lord Frost said in a statement.
“Because the French government has not provided us with any formal notification on this topic, we will demand immediate explanation of their plans.” In light of this, we will examine what additional action is required.”