British fishing boats attacked by French in scallops dispute

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SCALLOP wars have once again broken out in the English Channel as French trawlers confronted British counterparts – firing flares and throwing frying pans.

Two British boats, the Girl Macey, skippered by Scott Glover, and the Golden Promise, by Brian Whittington, were involved in the deep-sea skirmish.

What’s been dubbed Scallop Wars 2 see British fishermen being attacked by up to 20 French boats in the English Channel at around 1.30am on Monday. They were pelted with flares, rocks, frying pans and oil amid tensions over rules on catching scallops.

Dramatic footage, filmed onboard a British vessel, captured the moment it was pelted with objects. Seconds later, the French crew fired a red flare at the British boat.

The Girl Macey, skippered by Scott Glover, and the Golden Promise, by Brian “Winkle” 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.

The hostile French crews even threw oil at the Gal Macey before firing a flare at the boat before apparently escorting them out of the Baie de la Seine.

The outbreak of violence comes after a series of clashes and the new incident has sparked fears that hostilities are worsening.

Brian ‘Winkle’ Whittington, 43, skipper of the Golden Promise, said: “I was expecting it this time, 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.

‘FIRING FLARES’

“We were about two miles apart and I had two or three boats around me. 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.”

Both vessels are based out of Brixham in Devon.

And Derek Meredith, a fishermen from Brixham and owner of the Golden Promise, believes that tensions are heightening in the Channel.

He said that this incident could have easily resulted in a death, as the flare could have set the Gal Macey on fire.

Derek said: “When I heard about it I was very concerned, if that flare went into the wheel house the boat would have burned up, and would the French have helped?

“The boat would sink and the French would just leave our boys to drown.

“They shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing but they seem to get away with it every year.”

He called on the Royal Navy to intervene to help British fishermen.

Mr Meredith added: “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.

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

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

However talks to resolve the issue failed in September 2018 when a preliminary agreement was not finalised.

The latest skirmish over scallops comes as the UK and the EU are scrambling to reach a post-Brexit deal – with fishing a major obstacle.

The Great scallop war

The value of scallops sold in the UK in 2019 amounted to approximately 17.5 million British pounds.

Violence broke out in August 2018 when 35 boats from Normandy surrounded five British vessels fishing for scallops. Stones and flares were thrown and boats rammed each other
FRANCE 3 CAEN/REUTERS

The English Channel scallop fishing dispute also called the Great Scallop War or guerre de la coquille, first occurred on 10 October 2012 or 8 October 2012, between British and French fishermen in the Channel 24 kilometres (15 mi) off the coast of Le Havre, France. 

The dispute arose because of a difference in fishing restrictions between the two countries. British scallop fishers are allowed to fish for scallops year round, whilst French scallop fishers are not permitted to fish between 15 May and 1 October each year. A second confrontation took place in the same area on 28 August 2018.

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