Fishermen talk peace as Franco-British scallops dispute flares up

Image      The French have accused the British of depleting stocks

Image The French have accused the British of depleting stocks

French fishermen argue that scallops should not be harvested in summer, when they reproduce.

Stone-throwing, insults and risky maneuvers on the high seas: French and British fishermen clashed in the English Channel over a hoard of scallops Tuesday, the latest flare-up in a years-long war over the prized shellfish.

'We reported it to the (Marine Management Organisation), nothing happened, it just went on deaf ears'.

A fishing boat owner from Brixham, however, raised the number of boats confronting the Brits to 40 and said: "One boat got petrol bombed, others had windows smashed".

The skipper of Joanna C, Nathan Clark, also told the broadcaster: 'I'm not really concerned because we're doing nothing wrong... it's just the safety of my crew and the boat really, because there's nothing to stop them doing it all over again'.

Jim Portus, chairman of the scallop industry consultation group called on the Royal Navy to protect the British boats.

'The French nearly surrounded the British, ' Rogoff said, prompting the British to flee.

The skirmish took place more than 12 nautical miles out to sea where the British are legally allowed to fish all year round. "And they want that to continue after Brexit".

Around 40 French boats were said to be responsible for the disruption. However, boats from the United Kingdom are free to take the lucrative shellfish from the seabed year-round, although according to The Telegraph "in previous years a gentleman's agreement has generally allowed both sides to harvest scallops fairly".

"We sent only one ship that day, but we will send more if it's necessary", she told the BBC.

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He said he spoke to his wife, who was "full of joy", via Skype, moments after she was released. Her family denies this, saying says she was in Iran to visit family.

"It's what we want and it's what France wants and we will be working on that", she said.

"They were fishing entirely legally".

The commission said it was "in the interest first and foremost of the fishermen" to come to a new agreement.

France bans all scallop dredging between May 15 and October 1, but Britain allows its vessels to operate year-round.

The British were heavily outnumbered at five boats to around 35 French vessels, according to maritime official Ingrid Parot, and were eventually chased from the scallop-rich waters of the Baie de Seine area of Normandy.

Dimitri Rogoff, head of a Normandy fishermen's association, said the violent scenes "demonstrate the exasperation of Normandy fishermen in a situation which persists and does not change".

Mr Rogoff said the French trawlermen wanted the visiting fleet to stay north of a line running from Barfleur in Normandy to Cap d'Antifer to the east to avoid running supplies down.

A European Commission spokesman said it was for the two countries to resolve any dispute "in an amicable way".

Speaking after the incident on Monday night, Barrie Deas, chief executive of Britain's National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations appealed for calm.

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