France-UK scallop dispute remains unsettled

Talks between French and UK fisherman scallop-fishing rights have collapsed, France’s agriculture ministry said on Wednesday September 12th.

French fishermen are unhappy that UK fishermen are legally allowed to catch scallops in the Baie de Seine off the coast of Normandy during the summer, provided they stay outside the 12-mile limit, while French boats cannot do so because of French laws aimed at protecting shellfish stocks. The French fishermen claim that the stocks are still declining because of UK fishing exploitation. The UK fishermen say that they are not breaking any laws.

The French said that “Agriculture and Food Minister Stephane Travert notes the failure of the fishermen to reach an agreement for this season’s scallop fishing”. An outline “broad-brush” agreement reached last week disintegrated when it came to sorting out the details.

Travert said last week that the French Navy was ready to act if there were fresh clashes between fishermen.

The failure related to boats smaller than 15 metres, with the French claiming that British fishermen had exploited an exception introduced with the intention of protecting individual fishing boats or those from small collectives.

The head of France’s National Fishing Committee, Hubert Carre, said that the British side had made “exorbitant” demands to be compensated for not fishing.