The Cornelis Gert Jan docked at Shoreham Port

Sussex ship seized by France returns home

A Sussex scallop-dredger detained by French authorities has returned home.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 12:31 pm

The Cornelis Gert Jan arrived back at Shoreham Port this morning (November 4) after being seized on Wednesday, October 27.

The Sussex-based vessel found itself embroiled in a diplomatic row after France said it was fishing without a licence.

Earlier, its Scottish operator, Macduff Shellfish, said a court had determined that no bond was required for the release of the vessel.

In a statement, the firm 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 returning home and are grateful for all the messages of support received from the British public.

Last week, Macduff had said the vessel was boarded by the French authorities and ordered into a French port ‘while legally fishing for scallop in French waters’.

It added: “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.”

Sustainable fishing campaigners Open Seas said Cornelis Gert Jan was one of the world’s largest scallop dredgers so it was not surprising France was upset by its presence in what it described as ‘extremely damaging’ type of fishing. The 328-tonne boat is 117ft long – three times the length of an average British trawler.

Open Seas policy director Phil Taylor said he did not think the boat was operating illegally, but France may have acted in frustration at the scale of its dredging when its boats had been refused licences to fish in UK waters.

He said scallop dredging was not well regulated and there were no catch quotas.

Page 1 of 3