Scallop wars rage on as French fishermen catch 44 rare tuna off Jersey coast

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Emergency talks will be held in the next 24 hours to try to agree a deal that could put an end to the so-called scallop wars, which have once again intensified between French and British fishermen. 

It comes as it emerged French fishermen have, in recent weeks, caught 44 rare bluefin tuna, off the coast of Jersey in the Channel Islands.

The fish, which each weighed around 100kg, were later sold in Granville, France. It’s another example of how complicated fishing regulations can be.

The French are allowed to catch tuna in British waters, while the British are banned and vice versa.

Tuna. Pic: Poissonnerie Fresil Marée  Scallop wars rage on as French fishermen catch 44 rare tuna off Jersey coast skynews blue fin tuna scallop wars 4410934
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The haul represents how complicated the rules are. Pic: Poissonnerie Fresil Marée

Footage emerged last week of rival vessels colliding with each other and objects being thrown. It is alleged that some French boats threw smoke bombs and rocks at English and Scottish vessels, causing significant damage.

The dispute focuses on fishing regulations in the Channel. At this time of the year, the French aren’t allowed to fish in Baie de Seine waters because their government wants to preserve shellfish numbers.

However, British boats don’t face the same restrictions and can legally do so.

The French argue that larger boats hoover up as many scallops in a single day as smaller fishermen would achieve in a month.

They insist that modern methods of industrial scale fishing cause significant ecological damage and that if the area is fished all year round there will be nothing left for future generations.

A storm has been brewing in the Channel over dredging rules for decades.

A splatter mark on the stern of the Honeybourne 3, a Scottish scallop dredger, in dock at Shoreham, West Sussex, following clashes with French fishermen  Scallop wars rage on as French fishermen catch 44 rare tuna off Jersey coast skynews scottish scallop dredger 4404517
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A splatter mark on the stern of the Honeybourne 3, in dock at Shoreham, after clashes with French fishermen

:: May calls for ‘amicable solution’ to scallops row after French fishermen ‘attack’

On social media, there had been some suggestion that English and Scottish fishermen were planning to make a stand this week, by sending a flotilla of boats over to French waters but that never materialised.

The majority, based out of Brixham, Devon, say they don’t want hassle and are waiting to hear the result of Wednesday’s emergency meeting.

Officials and representatives will hold their talks in London in private. It is understood that members from both sides will be there, although ministers won’t.

The government insists the safety of the UK fleet is its top priority, but those who witnessed last week’s violence insist Westminster needs to do more before someone ends up being killed.

Two of Derek Meredith’s boats have been damaged. He said when events unfolded last week, there was a fear that the French may have had guns.

He told Sky News: “It is terrifying if you get surrounded. You have to move to get out of the area, but how do you do that if they’re chucking petrol bombs at you.

“The French need to be policed by the French. It’s a riot. The UK government have never stood by us with fishing. Maybe things will change with Brexit.”

:: French fisherman claims British are the aggressors in the scallop wars

Smoke bombs are reported to have been thrown at English and Scottish vessels  Scallop wars rage on as French fishermen catch 44 rare tuna off Jersey coast skynews scallops english channel 4404286
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Smoke bombs are reported to have been thrown at English and Scottish vessels

At Brixham harbour some fishermen can accept why the French are frustrated and angry with the current regulations.

But they insist if they acted with such violence they would be sent to prison.

It is understood a French navy vessel is currently patrolling waters, just off the coast of Caen, which makes the Baie de Seine a no-go area.

Instead, English and Scottish vessels are choosing to fish in the waters around Dieppe at the moment.

Normandy Fishing Chief, Dimitri Rogoff said: “For the Brits it’s an open bar. They fish when they want, where they want, and as much as they want.

“We don’t want to stop them fishing, but they could at least wait until 1 October so that we can share.”

Scallops off the Norman coast are among the richest in the world and so you can see why so many people want to fish there.

The French are hoping that Brexit will mean that British boats will no longer be able to enter their waters, but some believe it could make things worse if all common rules for fishery management are removed.



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