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British fishing vessel still held in France, owner says

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By Reuters

By Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew MacAskill

LONDON -A British scallop dredger seized by France is being held at the port of Le Havre, the owner of the ship said on Tuesday, though French President Emmanuel Macron stepped back from slapping immediate sanctions on Britain in a post-Brexit fishing row.

Bickering over fish between London and Paris culminated last Wednesday in the French seizure of the British dredger, the Cornelis Gert Jan, in French waters near Le Havre.

“As far as we are aware, the vessel remains held at the port of Le Havre at least until the hearing tomorrow,” Andrew Brown, a director of Macduff Shellfish which owns the Cornelis Gert Jan, told Reuters.

Earlier, British Environment Secretary George Eustice said he understood the vessel had been freed by France. A spokesman later said the minister had misspoken.

Ship tracking data shows the vessel in Le Havre.

A Reuters journalist in Le Havre said the vessel remained berthed at the dockside on Tuesday morning, and there was no sign of preparations to cast off. Members of the crew declined to comment.

Macron said on Monday he was postponing trade sanctions on Britain so that negotiators from both sides could work on new proposals to defuse their dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.

“It’s a decision by the French to step back from the threats they made,” Eustice told Sky. “We welcome that.”