At the heart of the dispute is the number of licences London allocated to French boats after leaving the European Union. France says many are missing, while London says it is respecting the deal.

France had threatened to step up checks on trucks and produce from Britain and to bar British trawlers from French ports.
France had threatened to step up checks on trucks and produce from Britain and to bar British trawlers from French ports. (AP)

France has urged a "rapid solution" to a fishing dispute with Britain that is feared to degenerate into a full-blown trade war.

"France remains open to dialogue, but a rapid solution must be found for our fishermen, in line with the implementation of our agreements," France's Europe Minister Clement Beaune wrote on Twitter on Tuesday after telephone talks with Britain's Brexit minister, David Frost.

The conversation came after a crunch face-to-face meeting between the two men in Paris on Thursday on a dispute that has severely exacerbated tensions between the Channel neighbours in the wake of Britain's exit from the European Union.

Beaune's tweeted comment indicates that no breakthrough was found in the latest talks although dialogue is likely to continue.

France had threatened to ban British boats from unloading their catches at French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said France would hold off imposing the measures to give dialogue a chance but French officials have insisted the all options remain on the table should dialogue fail.

The two sides failed to resolve the dispute after talks last week, but vowed to press on with efforts to find a solution through dialogue.

READ MORE: France detains British trawler, fines boats amid deepening fishing row

Macron vs Johnson

Under a deal agreed by Britain and the EU late last year, European fishing vessels can continue to ply UK waters if they can prove they operated there in the past.

But Paris says dozens of French boats have had their applications to fish the UK's rich waters rejected, an assessment strongly contested by London.

The total volumes affected are tiny in terms of overall France-UK bilateral trade.

But analysts say Macron is keen to take a hardline against Johnson as he eyes re-election in a 2022 poll while the British premier is also keen to talk tough in the wake of Brexit.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies