UK and France close to scallop deal

Westminster environment secretary George Eustice

BRITAIN and France have reached agreement in principle over the scallop row which has seen fishermen from both countries confront each other in a series of ugly clashes at sea.
A deal was thrashed out after talks in London yesterday between UK and French fish producer groups when it was agreed that British vessels will not fish the scallop rich grounds in the Baie de Seine off Normandy during the summer months when French boats are banned.
But the agreement is dependent on ‘reasonable compensation’ being paid to UK vessels, details of which will be worked out at a resumption of talks in Paris tomorrow.
Meanwhile, UK fishermen have been asked to stay away from the area until the deal is finalised.
Jim Portus, the chief executive of Britain\’s South Western Fish Producers Organisation, said the proposed agreement had satisfied the honour of fishermen on both sides. But he warned that if the compensation package was not good enough it would be rejected.
Yesterday’s talks were described as constructive. UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice (pictured) said the goal of the talks is to reach a new agreement that would prevent more confrontations.
French fishermen had accused the British of unfairly catching scallops in the Baie de Seine during the summer and using large boats and dredging methods which they claimed were damaging stocks.
This led to a 40-strong flotilla of French boats hurling stones and flares at a smaller number of UK vessels.
There are suggestions of another Channel fishing dispute, but with the situation in reverse. French boats have been catching highly valuable blue fin tuna close to the coast of the Channel Islands.
Feelings have been running high because UK boats do not have a quota for tuna, but French and Spanish trawlers do.

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