French and UK boats clash in 'scallop war'

Shetland Scallops Shells
FRENCH and British fishermen have clashed in a series of stone and flare throwing  incidents off the coast of Normandy in a fresh  row over scallops.

According to French TV reports,  up to 40  fishing vessels had set off from three French  Channel ports, Trouville-sur-Mer, Port-en-Bessin and Ouistreham to confront around five British vessels. The French surrounded their opponents throwing stones, flares and other objects , eventually forcing them to leave the area.

“The French went to contact the British to stop them working and they clashed with each other,” said Normandy fishing chief Dimitri Rogoff, claiming that while there was stone-throwing he had not heard of any injuries or damage. But two Brixham boats are thought to have had damaged windows.

Rogoff said the French wanted the British boats, which were from  both Peterhead in Scotland and the English south-west,  to stay north of a line running from Barfleur in Normandy to Cap d’Antifer further to the east. But the British are legally entitled to fish in that area.

The incident has led to calls by  the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) for the UK Government to intervene. Its chief executive Barrie Deas  has described the behaviour of the French fishermen as  very dangerous.
He said: \”Throwing stones and firing flares is not only dangerous but illegal under maritime law and there will be consequences.” When asked if Britain should send in naval vessels, he said he wants the UK to put diplomatic pressure on the French government to control the actions of their own vessels at least in the first instance.
In order to allow  scallop stocks to recover, seasonal restrictions have been imposed on French scallop boats which means they can only fish between October 1st and May 15th. But there has been no such imposition on British vessels. However, the two sides have worked together in the past under what has been described as a “gentleman’s agreement”.
The French are claiming there is no such agreement in place this year, accusing  British boats of  stripping the scallop beds so little if left for the French when they are allowed to resume fishing.
Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, described the clashing incident as \”clear piracy\”. Speaking about the Scottish boat, he told BBC Scotland: \”He\’s fully entitled to be there. UK vessels can enter that French zone, it\’s not illegal.”


Keep up with us

Fish Farmer April 2024 cover

The April 2024 issue of Fish Farmer magazine is out now online