BRITAIN and France were holding talks in London today to try to avoid a repeat of the recent violent clashes in the so called scallop war.
English and Scottish vessels fishing for scallops off the coast of Normandy came under attack last week from French fishermen, who threw rocks and flares to drive them out of the Baie de Seine.
The British are allowed to fish legally for scallops all year round, but the French are restricted by their own government to operate only between October and mid-May, and this has angered them.
They also claim the British are using larger vessels and dredging methods, which are damaging stocks.
The incidents have since died down, but the French have sent in a naval ship and chased off a lone British trawler which ventured into the disputed area a few days ago.
However, the UK has generally accepted official advice to stay clear of the Baie de Seine until a solution is found.
France’s agriculture minister, Stephane Travert, said yesterday that its navy was ready to intervene to prevent further clashes.
‘We cannot continue to have incidents like this,’ he said.
Fish producer organisations from the two countries will meet at Defra today in an attempt to find a mutually acceptable solution. No ministers will be present at the talks, but they will be keeping a close eye on their progress.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said: ‘The important thing is that there are talks taking place between the two sides.
‘I think everybody – ourselves and the French government – is hoping that this will reach an amicable outcome.’
Picture: French and British boats clash in the Channel (photo: BBC)