French fishermen ‘endanger British mariners in scallop clash’

Peter Lee

The British were heavily outnumbered at five boats to around 40 French vessels and officials from France were called out to keep the peace in the scallop-rich waters off Normandy.

This means France can impose restrictions on United Kingdom and other non-French EU boats operating within this zone, but not beyond.

She also criticised the response of the French authorities, saying there was "no evidence whatsoever" that they had taken action against the vessels.

Normandy fishing chief Dimitri Rogoff said that the French vessels were indeed trying to stop the British from fishing in the waters, but just until the season got started again.

"Apparently there was stone-throwing, but no injuries or damage".

Parrot said every year there are problems between French and British fishermen over access to lucrative scallops, but it's usually without violence. Our crews were petrified.

He joined the blockade to try to stop the British boats moving closer to the French coast in search of the locally prized shellfish. Our crews were petrified.

One of the British ships, the Golden Promise, had a window smashed by an airborne canister, while another suffered fire damage after a flare was thrown on board. "There has been a bit of trouble over the past couple of years but nothing as serious as this".

A video has emerged online which shows the Honeybourne III being rammed by another vessel and bombarded with stones during the chaotic scenes.

Images posted on the site showed two or three boats smashing into each other with a French fisherman shouting what appeared to be "putain.salop" or "fuck, you bastard" in the direction of another boat.

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British fisherman aren't bound by the same rules, but for many years had agreed not to fish in the area until the French are permitted to as well.

In an effort to help build up scallop stocks, the French are only allowed to fish in the waters between October 1 and May 15.

Rogoff expressed the fishermen's frustrations in his comments to the BBC.

"For the Brits, it's an open bar - they fish when they want, where they want, and as much as they want", he told the BBC.

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.

The pro-Brexit organization Fishing for Leave has however denounced the "hypocrisy" of French fishermen, charging that they have caught 60 percent of the fish in British waters over the past 40 years.

He added: "With these state-of-the-art, vastly capable ships we stand ready to protect our fisheries once Britain leaves the European Union". Another fisherman said, the French were "throwing ropes in our propellers".

French fishermen believe that British fishermen were coming within France's twelve-mile zone inside the Bay of Seine to dredge for scallops.

The Scottish White Fish Producers Association condemned the "vigilante" French fishermen.

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