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‘Used As a Pawn’: Owner of British Trawler Detained by France Speaks Out As Fishing Rights Row Intensifies

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France has detained a British scallop trawler owned by Macduff Shellfish and given a verbal warning to another fishing boat in waters off its coast.

French maritime minister Annick Girardin said it is “not war, it’s a fight” amid a warning the country could ban allowing British fishing boats to disembark at French ports from next week if tensions are not resolved.

Clement Beaune, France’s Europe minister, said on CNews TV: “So now, we need to speak the language of strength since that seems to be the only thing this British government understands.”

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French Minister on ‘fight’ with UK over fishing

Andrew Brown, director of Macduff Shellfish which owns the detained vessel, told Sky News the boat was being used as a “pawn in an ongoing dispute” between the two countries.

He said: “On 27 October, Macduff’s scallop vessel Cornelis was boarded by the French authorities and ordered into the French port of Le Harve while legally fishing for scallop in French waters.

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“Access to French waters for the UK scallop fleet is provided under Brexit Fisheries Agreement. Macduff’s fishing activity is entirely legal.

“It appears our vessel is another pawn in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France on the implementation of the Brexit Fishing Agreement.

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“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.

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French ‘threats’ will be met by response

“We will vigorously defend ourselves against any vexatious claims.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel told Sky: “It is disappointing and we as a country have fulfilled all of our obligations under the TCA. But at the same time, across government discussions will continue – both at commission level but also with counterparts within the French administration.”

Environment secretary George Eustice told the Commons on Thursday he had asked officials to “urgently investigate”.

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The route taken by the scallop trawler. Pic: MarineTraffic.com

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The British government said it has granted 98% of licence applications from EU vessels. Pic: Arjan Buurveld

He said: “They were on the list that was provided by the MMO to the European Union. The European Union, therefore, did grant a licence. We are seeing some reports that they were subsequently withdrawn from the list. It’s unclear why that might have been at the moment.”

He said he was waiting on “relevant data” from Marine Scotland.

The government has said since 31 December 1,673 EU vessels have been licensed for fishing – 98% of those who applied for access – of which 736 were French.

Questioning Mr Eustice over the incident, Labour MP Luke Pollard said: “There is a real need that everyone involved in this uses language to de-escalate the situation, to not risk the lives of any British or French fishers in any clashes at sea and to ensure there is uninterrupted trade between the United Kingdom and France.”

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Patel: Detention of UK trawler ‘disappointing’

He said the situation had arisen from the government “losing control” of negotiations.

When ask about the status of the crew, Mr Eustice responded: “We don’t think there are any issues with the crew.

“The vessel was asked to go into port in the usual way.”

Mr Eustice said he had spoken with Virginijus Sinkevicius, the European Commission’s maritime affairs and fisheries commissioner.

He said: “The UK stands by its commitments in the trade and co-operation agreement.”

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The UK called the move ‘disappointing’. Pic: Arjan Buurveld

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The owner of the vessel (pictured here in 2012) said its activity was ‘entirely legal’. Pic: Eric Watt

“All of our decisions have been fully in line with this commitment,” he added.

A statement from Jersey’s Minister for Environment, Deputy John Young, and the Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said they were “extremely disappointed at the French government’s announcement”.

They continued: “Yesterday morning, Government of Jersey officers met officials from France, the UK and the European Commission, and made further progress on the outstanding applications from French vessels for licences to fish in Jersey’s territorial waters.

“The outcome of that meeting was that 162 French vessels will be licensed to fish in Jersey’s territorial waters from this Friday.”

Why is there a fishing row in the Channel between the UK and France?

They added: “We will continue to work closely with French authorities, the UK and the EU Commission – in accordance with the TCA – to ensure that vessels which are entitled to a permanent licence are able to receive one and can continue fishing in Jersey’s territorial waters in accordance with their historic track record.”

A European Commission spokesperson said they take note of the comments made by both countries.

They said: “Our Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the UK is clear: vessels who were fishing in these waters should be allowed to continue.

France has now released a list of sanctions that could apply from 2 November if the row is not resolved:

Banning British fishing vessels in some French ports
Reinforcement of customs and hygiene controls
Routine security checks on British vessels
Reinforcement of controls on lorries to and from the UK

“All French vessels entitled to a licence should receive one. Fishing licence applications are a top priority and we are working hard to support this process. We will continue discussions with the UK and France in the coming days to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

The UK government said the French response could breach international law, calling the threats “disappointing and disproportionate”.

In a tweet, the French Maritime Ministry said the ships were fined during “classic checks off Le Havre”.

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Macduff’s scallop vessel Cornelis was boarded by the French authorities. Pic: Sean Boyce

It added: “The first did not comply spontaneously: verbalization.

“The second did not have a licence to fish in our waters: diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority.”

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British fishing vessel Cornelis in Le Havre

One trawler was fined for obstructing checks after it initially refused a request to be boarded by police. It was later not found to have been in breach of regulations.

It is the latest twist in an increasingly bitter dispute between Britain and France over fishing rights.

France says its fishermen have not been issued with half the licences they are entitled to allowing them to fish in British waters under the terms of the Brexit agreement.

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May: Flares lit as fishing standoff continues

France protested against the decision last month by the UK and the Channel Island of Jersey to refuse dozens of French fishing boats licences to operate in their territorial waters.

Mr Beaune said the number of licences awarded was “not enough and not acceptable”.

The country considers these restrictions contrary to the post-Brexit agreement the UK signed when it left the EU.

Mr Girardin said it is “not serious” to suggest the country could switch off electricity to the UK after French spokesman Gabriel Attal suggested France’s supply of electricity to Britain could be subject to sanctions.

Analysis by Adam Parsons, Europe correspondent

France has stepped up its rhetoric, its threats and now its actions in this dispute. It is one thing to say you’re going to get tough; it’s quite another to force a British fishing boat into harbour.

The British government maintains it has issued licences to 98% of EU vessels who want to enter the nation’s coastal waters.

Ms Girardin says those figures are false and that it should be 90.3%, suggesting that the missing near-10% are French fishermen: “They have been waiting patiently for nine months and we have reached our limit.”

But this isn’t about all of British waters. It’s about a certain zone, between 6 and 12 miles from the coast, as well as the waters around Jersey.

So why do all this?

Firstly, Emmauel Macron is aware that, with a Presidential election on the horizon, he wants to shore up his support in northern France, where fishing is a potent topic.

He also thinks that picking a fight with Britain has political value. The AUKUS submarine deal infuriated Macron and, after years of Brexit wrangling, there is mistrust of Westminster politicians.

Macron is keen to portray himself as the de facto political leader of the EU and, right now, having a row with Boris Johnson won’t do him any harm. There is still a lot of resentment around Europe not just that the UK decided to leave the gang, but at the rancorous nature of the departure. Sympathy for Britain is in short supply.

France also feels emboldened to do this because it is supported by all the other coastal nations in the European Union. If British boats were banned from Boulogne, for instance, ports in Belgium or the Netherlands would be very unlikely to accept them either.

So will it come to that? France says it will introduce its measure on Tuesday, unless there has been significant progress. The UK says the threats are disproportionate and illegal. Neither side will want to back down. As ever, the combination of Brexit and fishing seems explosive.

Barrie Deas, from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, the body representing fishermen in England, said descending into a “tit for tat” relationship between the nations was “unhelpful”.

He said: “(The amount of) UK vessels landing into French ports is not massive.

“It’s a bit strange because the French fleets fish much more in UK waters than we fish in their waters.

“Therefore if we descend into a tit for tat relationship, I think the French fleet are very much more exposed – I don’t think that’s a very helpful way to go.”

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May: Jersey blockaded in French fishing dispute

A UK government spokesperson said it would be relaying its concerns to the EU Commission and French government.

It said: “France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner.

“The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.”

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Article: news.sky.com

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A Historic Night for Barbados and the Role of the Royal Family

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The crowds were strictly restricted due to the COVID pandemic, and despite the efforts and enthusiasm of the bands and dancers the atmosphere seemed muted in National Heroes Square, once known as Trafalgar Square.

But as the ceremonial events got under way the significance was striking, a historic night for Barbados and the role of the Royal Family.

There was a series of symbolic moments: the Prince of Wales closing almost 400 years of royal history inspecting one last military march past; the standard lowered for the final time; and the new president, Dame Sandra Mason, stepping forward to take her new role just seconds after the clock struck midnight.

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1:03

Rihanna ‘national hero’ of Barbados

Barbados had made that final step out on its own, now a republic.

In the distance you could hear the crowds clapping as the president entered the square.

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There were a few cheers for Prince Charles as his car swept past them, but the loudest cheer was for Barbados’s biggest star Rihanna, as she tried to make a subtle appearance during the middle of the proceedings.

And with the cheering and the fireworks lighting up the sky you could be led to believe this was a moment of celebration for all Barbadians.

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Yes, independence day always brings parties, but the move to a republic isn’t without controversy.

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‘Atrocity of slavery forever stains our history’

There was no referendum about it, and in the crowds it wasn’t difficult to find those who thought they should have had their say, others who don’t understand what this new status means for them, as well as those who for decades have fought to cut the colonial ties.

While it will remain a member of the Commonwealth, now it will be up to Prime Minister Mia Mottley to more forcefully take Barbados to the world stage, hammer home the need for greater support on the matters of COVID and the climate crisis.

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President Sandra Mason, singer Rihanna and Prince Charles during the transition ceremony

This is not a completely fresh slate, there are still matters around reparations and the legacy of the slave trade to deal with.

Prince Charles at least acknowledging the appalling ways hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans were treated, going some would say further formally in his comments than any other member of his family in the past.

He too reiterated that message that this is a new chapter for Barbados. And it was encouraging to see that at the helm a female prime minister and a female president are now helping to write that future.

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Original Post: news.sky.com

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Rihanna Declared a ‘national Hero’ As Barbados Celebrates Becoming a Republic

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Barbadian singer and businesswoman Rihanna has been declared a national hero by the country’s prime minister.

The 33-year-old was awarded the honour by Mia Mottley during an event to celebrate the island nation becoming a republic.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you the designee for national hero for Barbados, ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty,” the PM said to a jubilant crowd in the capital, Bridgetown.

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The singer was awarded the honour as the Caribbean island celebrated becoming a republic

“May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your works, by your actions.”

Rihanna was born in Saint Michael and raised in Bridgetown, before moving to the United States after she was discovered by New York-based music producer Evan Rogers.

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She has since gone on to become one of the biggest artists in the world, as well as starring in movies including Battleship and Ocean’s 8, and launching her own fashion brand, Fenty, in 2018.

Since 2018, Rihanna has had the honorary title of Ambassador for Culture and Youth in Barbados.

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In 2008, former prime minister David Thompson declared 22 February “Rihanna Day” – and although it is not a bank holiday, Barbadians celebrate it every year.

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Prince Charles was invited to speak at the transition ceremony

The latest honour was awarded to the star from her homeland as it celebrated becoming a republic – 55 years after gaining independence from the UK.

In a message to the people of the Caribbean island, the Queen sent her “good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” and emphasised the importance of the “continuation of the friendship” with the UK as she ceased to be their monarch.

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Rihanna joined the ceremony in Bridgetown

Prince Charles was invited to speak at the transition ceremony formalising the move.

Speaking in front of a crowd in National Heroes Square in Bridgetown, once known as Trafalgar Square, he said: “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our histories, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

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There was singing and dancing during the celebrations

“Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.”

Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the island’s first-ever president.

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Source: news.sky.com

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Prince Charles Acknowledges ‘appalling’ History of Slavery As Barbados Becomes a Republic

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The Prince of Wales has formally acknowledged “the appalling atrocity of slavery” in the Caribbean, saying “it forever stains our history” at an event to mark Barbados becoming a republic.

Prince Charles was invited to speak at the transition ceremony formalising the Caribbean island’s decision to remove the Queen as its head of state.

Speaking in front of a crowd in National Heroes Square in Bridgetown, once known as Trafalgar Square, he said: “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our histories, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

“Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.”

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Prince Charles celebrated the UK’s relationship with Barbados in his speech

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Performers provide entertainment as part of the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony in Bridgetown

A 21-gun salute was fired just after midnight when the nation officially became a republic, marking a new chapter in the nation’s history.

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The prince, who described how “the creation of this republic offers a new beginning”, watched as the Queen’s standard was lowered for the final time.

He described how he felt “deeply touched” to be invited to the event, held on the nation’s 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, and spoke of his great personal respect for the people of Barbados.

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He added: “Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story, adding to the treasury of past achievement, collective enterprise and personal courage which already fill its pages.

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Members of the Barbados armed forces carry the presidential colours

A new chapter

“The creation of this republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum – a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled but which you have built.”

In a message to the people of the Caribbean island, the Queen sent her “good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” and emphasised the importance of the “continuation of the friendship” with the UK as she ceased to be their monarch.

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Rihanna ‘national hero’ of Barbados

Barbados’ decision to remove the Queen as head of state will be watched closely by other members of the Commonwealth, especially in the Caribbean region.

Prince Charles’ speech referenced the UK’s close relationship with Barbados and a continuing partnership between the two nations.

“As your constitutional status changes, it was important to me that I should join you to reaffirm those things which do not change,” Prince Charles said.

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Dame Sandra Mason is now president of Barbados

“For example, the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the United Kingdom as vital members of the Commonwealth; our common determination to defend the values we both cherish and to pursue the goals we share; and the myriad connections between the people of our countries – through which flow admiration and affection, co-operation and opportunity – strengthening and enriching us all.”

After a dazzling display of Barbadian dance and music, Sandra Mason was sworn in as Barbados’ first ever president.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the leader of Barbados’ republican movement, helped lead the ceremony.

Barbadian singer Rihanna also attended the event and was declared a national hero.

“May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your works, by your actions,” Ms Mottley told Rihanna, a reference to her 2012 chart-topping single Diamonds.

The transition ceremony was watched in-person by a large crowd, and broadcast online and on screens across the island.

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Source: news.sky.com

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