French, British boats fight over access to scallop-rich waters, video shows

French, British boats fight over access to scallop-rich waters, video shows

Paris - French maritime authorities are appealing for calm after fishermen from rival French and British fleets banged their boats in ill-tempered skirmishes over access to the scallop-rich waters off France's northern coast.

A spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of aggression directed towards United Kingdom fishing vessels in an area of the English Channel not under United Kingdom control".

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

Normandy fishing chief Dimitri Rogoff said the 40 French boats had gathered at the spot overnight in preparation for their United Kingdom counterparts arriving in the early hours.

Mr Deas said Brexit might have amplified tensions that have been rumbling for the past 15 years.

"However, based on the footage I have seen, it looks like French vessels are there to simply obstruct British vessels".

Following the incident, a British MP accused French fisherman of "taking the law into their own hands" and demanded answers from the Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

The British boats were legally catching fish in worldwide waters when they were attacked and British fisherman Jim Portus accused the French of being "precious" and hypocritical.

French boats only have the right to fish for scallops from October 1 until May 15 to allow local stocks to regenerate, but United Kingdom crews do not face the same restrictions. This year, no such agreement is in place.

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"We've got to try and expel the English because if we leave them to it, they will finish the sector", Anthony Quesnel, Captain of La Rise des Vents fishing boat, told France Television.

"What we want, is that they come and scrape at the same time as us".

"Scallops are a flagship product for Normandy, a primary resource and a highly sensitive issue", said Rogoff.

Ukip MEP has called for British fishing vessels to be protected after the "disgraceful" attacks by their French counterparts.

David Duguid, Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, last night stressed that the Peterhead boat was "perfectly entitled" to fish at that stretch of the Channel. The safety of the United Kingdom fleet is our highest priority, and we will continue to monitor the presence and activities of vessels in the area.

"We have raised the matter with the British government and asked for protection for our vessels which are fishing legitimately".

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

'The deeper issues behind the clashes should be settled by talking, not on the high seas where people could be hurt'.

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