A fishing boat that operates out of Shoreham has been detained by the French authorities in the Normandy port of Le Havre.
The Scottish owner, Macduff Shellfish, said: “On Wednesday 27 October, Macduff’s scallop vessel Cornelis was boarded by the French authorities and ordered into a French port while legally fishing for scallop in French waters.
“The UK scallop fleet is provided access to French waters under the Brexit Fisheries Agreement. Macduff’s fishing activity is entirely legal.
“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.
“We are looking to the UK government to defend the rights of the UK fishing fleet and ensure that the fishing rights provided under the Brexit Fishing agreement are fully respected by the EU.
“We will vigorously defend ourselves against any claims.”
The Cornelis Gert Jan’s skipper was taken ashore but has since returned to the vessel which is believed to have left Shoreham the day before.
The 120ft-long vessel was the subject of an emergency question in the House of Commons earlier today (Thursday 28 October).
During the debate that followed, the Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, Tim Loughton, intervened.
Mr Loughton said: “The boat that has been detained is a Scottish-owned boat that operates out of Shoreham, the largest port for scallops … in the country.
“It is a very important trade through the port of Shoreham that has always been done within the rules.
“My fishermen are more concerned about the infringement into our waters of French fishing boats that appeared not to be following the rules.
“Can the Secretary of State assure us that he will do everything he can to make sure that the fishing boat from Shoreham is properly looked after, and to make sure that there is proper enforcement action against infringements by French fishermen and women that are happening in our waters?”
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice replied: “If fishermen in my honourable friend’s constituency have some specific points around specific vessels that they would like to feed into me, I would be more than happy to refer that on to the MMO, which leads for enforcement of vessels in our waters.
“We have significantly increased our enforcement capacity with additional vessels and some aerial surveillance in order to be able to enforce activities in our waters properly.
“If there are particular instances that he is aware of, I would be happy to follow them up.”
The French ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office as ministers try to resolve the row over the 36-year-old vessel.
The government said: “The proposed French actions are unjustified and do not appear to be compatible on the EU’s part with the Trade and Co-operation Agreement or wider international law.”