Scallop wars: French fishermen accused of acting like PIRATES during row with Britain

Two UK fishing vessels were targeted by about 20 French boats in the English Channel earlier this week. They were pelted with flares, rocks, frying pans and oil amid tensions over rules on catching scallops. The Girl Macey, skippered by Scott Glover, and the Golden Promise, skippered by Brian Whittington, which are both based out of Brixham, Devon, were surrounded by French boats during the clash.

Mr Whittington told The Times: “They only do it in the dark.

“We can’t use the radio when they do it as they just talk over us instantly, so I couldn’t check on Scott to see how he was.

“Scott had 15 around him, they were throwing oil at him and firing flares.

“I was mentally prepared for it, I knew it was going to happen again.”

Derek Meredith, the owner of the Golden Promise, warned the incident could have caused deaths.

Mr Meredith said: “They act very aggressively, they do every year.

“Last year they smashed our windows and nothing happened — they get away with it every year.”

French fishermen are banned from catching scallops between May 15 and October 1.

However, British fishermen can catch scallops all year – sparking tensions with their French counterparts.

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Violence over scallops previously erupted between British and French fishermen in 2018.

Two years ago, Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, even claimed the actions of French fishing boats, which clashed with Scottish vessels, were comparable to piracy.

Writing for the Scotsman, Mr Park said: “The scenes we witnessed in the English Channel were deplorable and an act of high-seas piracy designed to cause destruction.

“The threat to life was obvious as was the inability of the French to control their emotions. This was a series of planned attacks to prevent UK fishermen earning an honest day’s pay.”

For a number of years now, UK fishermen have worked closely with their French counterparts to deliver a win-win formula that helped us avoid such clashes, Mr Park noted.

That formula consisted of the French donating scallop effort to the UK fleet, which it lacks in sufficient numbers, in return for UK vessels avoiding the Eastern English Channel (Area Viid) for a three-month period from August to October.

UK vessels are relatively happy with the deal and, as such, are willing to avoid what are productive grounds in the Eastern Channel.

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However, in 2019, according to Mr Park, the French ignored the UK’s offer to reach a similar agreement on the basis that a number of the very small inshore vessels are not covered by the arrangement.

He continued: “Unfortunately, it is not within anyone’s power at the moment to dictate to these vessels which remain largely unregulated. What is important, however, is the scale and context of the issue.

“In total, UK scallop vessels landed in the region of 1,000 tons of the scallops from the English Channel, with the small inshore vessels making up a part of that.

“The French, on the other hand, landed anywhere between 14,000 and 17,000 tons. Are these small vessels really an issue big enough to wreck a deal? I would suggest they are an excuse, not a reason.

“Deal or no deal what we can’t have is individuals or groups of individuals taking the law into their own hands.

“Given political tensions as we move to D-Day on Brexit, you would imagine that French President would be pulling the French fishing leaders aside and giving them a whiff of French diplomacy.”

Read original article here.