The migrants, including two children, were picked up around 5:00 a.m. just a few kilometers off the French port of Boulogne. Authorities spotted the boat sailing with its lights off, making an unusual trajectory.
A boat carrying 16 migrants was intercepted off the northern French port town of Boulogne-sur-Mer on Sunday as it made its way towards Britain, French media reported.
The local coastguard was deployed after a stolen fishing vessel named Sainte-Catherine aroused suspicion close to the entrance of the port before dawn, Franceinfo radio said.
In a statement, the maritime agency for the English Channel and the North Sea said the vessel had been "sailing with all lights off, was not answering radio calls and making an unusual trajectory."
The boat, containing 14 adults and two children, was found a few minutes later 11 kilometers (7 miles) off the French coast. Authorities boarded the vessel and steered it back to the port.
After a few hours, the passengers were handed to the local border police.
Focus on Calais
Northern France, and in particular the port of Calais, has been a longtime stopping point for thousands of migrants seeking to reach Britain.
As many as 8,000 migrants from North Africa and the Middle East lived in the makeshift Calais jungle encampment until it was cleared in October 2016.
Although most of the migrants were moved to formal French reception centers, hundreds of people remain in the area, living in smaller ad-hoc camps along the northern French coast.
Increase in boat trips
Migrants also arrive in Europe through other means. Britain, for instance, has noted an increase in Iranians trying to enter the country illegally after Serbia offered visa-free travel to Iranian nationals. Some of them made onward journeys through Europe to northern France and then by boat to the UK.