Lawyer says French court permits freeing of UK trawler

Despite a claim by UK environment minister George Eustice that UK trawler Cornelis Gert Jan (IMO 8410067), seized by France last week, had been released, the vessel’s owner said that as of Tuesday evening it was still being held in Le Havre.

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday November 2nd the environment secretary said he thought the Cornelis Gert Jan had been released.

However, Macduff Shellfish, the owners of the boat, said that it was still impounded. The UK Government later confirmed that the fishing vessel remained in the French port.

A French court ruled on Wednesday that the vessel could leave immediately and its captain would not have to pay a deposit for the release of the ship, a lawyer for the captain said on Wednesday afternoon.

France has accused the UK of denying permits to French fishermen and threatened to retaliate by blocking UK-flagged vessels from French ports and tightening border checks on British goods.

The UK has insisted that it was sticking to the post-Brexit EU-UK agreement. It said that it would take legal action unless France withdrew its threats.

France had claimed that the fishing trawler had been fishing in the Bay of Seine without the proper licences. Macduff Shellfish has said the boat had a licence to fish in EU waters earlier this year and that it did not yet understand why the vessel had been removed from the authorized list. The company said that the cost of allowing the vessel to return to the UK would be decided at the court hearing in Rouen on Wednesday morning.

1985-built, UK-flagged, 328 gt Cornelis Gert Jan is owned and managed by Macduff Shellfish Scotland Ltd of Peterhead, UK. It is entered with Shipowners’ Club.