Scallop row escalates after French fishermen net  bluefin tuna off UK

Tensions escalate in scallop wars row after French fishermen venture into British waters to net 44 bluefin tuna their UK rivals are BANNED from catching

  • Normandy-based boat grabbed 44 bluefin tuna in British waters off Jersey 
  • British fisherman must thrown them back but some EU nations can keep them 
  • Rows between French and British fishermen boiled over last week in the Channel
  • Rocks and bottles were thrown between vessels and emergency flares fired   

The battle between British and French fisherman escalated again today after Gallic trawlers grabbed a giant haul of bluefin tuna off Jersey that their UK rivals must throw back.

Two boats based in Normandy grabbed 44 of the valuable fish while hunting for bream off the Channel Islands.

The tuna, each weighing between 50kg and 120kg and worth more than £100,000 in total, were then brought ashore at Granville in France to be sold.  

Footage from a week ago showed French crews throwing stones and smoke bombs onto British ships in a row over scallops and now there is a row over tuna

Only a small number of EU countries can fish for bluefin tuna and France can get them in UK waters but British boats cannot

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Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks are managed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Why can the French fish bluefin tuna when Britain are banned?

There is an EU quota on fishing for bluefin tuna which last year was set at 13,451.4 tonnes.

The member states actively involved in the bluefin tuna fishery are Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus.

UK fishermen have no quota.

The bluefin tuna fishery is regulated by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

ICAAT have been contacted for comment.

Phil Treblicock, 64, a fisherman from Newquay, Cornwall, said it was an unfair arrangement.

He added: ‘I’ve never caught them – there are some about but there’s a total ban.

‘They shouldn’t be allowed if we’re not – it doesn’t seem fair.

‘It goes against the grain a bit.

‘We aren’t going to do anything out selves, all we can do is go through the proper channels like the British do.’

French fishermen are allowed to keep bluefin tuna while their British counterparts are banned from doing it. 

The bluefins are usually only found in the Bay of Biscay and Mediterranean but rising water temperatures are sending more into UK waters.

The UK has no specific quota to catch bluefin tuna but France, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus do. 

The new row came as British boats pledged to return to the French coast a week after they fought a Trafalgar-style battle in the English Channel over alleged ‘scallop pillaging’.

Derek Meredith, of Brixham, Devon, owner of two boats damaged in the scallop attack by the French last week, said the tuna rules are another example of how unfair the quota system was for British fishermen.

He said: ‘It is not an equal playing field but sounds about right for the way the French behave.

‘They also have 80 per cent of our cod quota. They just want it all their own way.

‘Negotiations should benefit everyone equally and we abide by whatever hand we get dealt. Some stuff we don’t like but we have to live with it and we don’t go out and retaliate.

‘How can it be fair that they come into our waters and are allowed to catch tuna, but we aren’t.

‘It is an unfair situation all around. We are policed by our authorities and they seem to be able to just do what they want.’

Devon fisherman Nathan Clark shows the damage done to his ship in the nighttime ‘battle’ last week

Derek said the crew members of his onboard the Golden Promise and Joanna C that were attacked with firebombs and various throwing objects by the French last week were shaken up but they had all now returned to work and were back out fishing.

Michael Gove tells the French to stop the fishermen terrorising British trawler-men in the scallop wars

Michael Gove (pictured outside Downing Street in May) said that the French authorities must crack down on the terrorising behaviour 

Michael Gove has backed British fishermen in the scallop wars – and told the French to bring order to their waters.

The Environment Secretary hit out at the ‘terrible’ scenes British fishermen have been subjected to in the Channel.

And he said it is clear that the British fishermen have every right to fish there. 

He said: ‘My heart goes out to the British fishermen who were caught up in the terrible scenes that we saw happen earlier this week.

‘They were fishing entirely legally, they had every right to be in those waters and we talked to the French authorities in order to ensure that we have a protocol.

‘These are French waters – it’s the responsibility of the French to ensure that those who have a legal right to fish can continue to fish uninterrupted.’

It is understood that British minsters are in contact with the French administration in an effort to prevent a repeat of the scenes.  

He said they were planning to return to France for the first time since the incident later this week. 

The heavily outnumbered British fleet of four boats was up against at least 40 from northern France before police finally intervened in the Seine Bay last Tuesday.

Rocks and bottles were thrown between vessels and emergency flares fired, as vessels rammed into each other, causing damage to hulls.

At one stage a small French craft was caught between the far larger Honeybourne III – which is based in Shoreham, Sussex – and La Rose des Vents (Rose of the Winds), from Normandy.

‘F***- off, f**** – off,’ the French shouted during the videoed confrontation at sunrise.

Within EU waters, commercial or recreational vessels are banned from catching or targeting bluefin tuna unless authorised to do so by an EU member state. 

As a result bluefin tuna is a prohibited species for UK registered commercial fishing vessels and if caught as a by-catch must be returned to the sea, alive and unharmed to the greatest extent possible.

However, there is no reciprocal ban for the French who have been given free run to invade British waters to get them.

Mick Ward, owner of the Mr Fish tackle shop in Jersey, said that the species – which prefer more southerly waters – are now gradually moving further north towards the UK. 

Tensions have been high between both countries for at least 15 years, during what has been dubbed the ‘Scallop Wars’.

Tensions have been high between both countries for at least 15 years, during what has been dubbed the ‘Scallop Wars’.

The French want their ‘Anglo-Saxon’ counterparts to stay north of a line running from Barfleur to Cap d’Antifer, both of which are in Normandy, and to only use small vessels to avoid running supplies down.

Normandy fishing chief Dimitri Rogoff said: ‘The French engaged the British to stop them fishing, and they clashed with each other.’ 

French boats currently only have the right to fish for scallops from October 1 until May 15 to allow local stocks to breed and regenerate.

However, the British have no such regulation, although in previous years an agreement has always been worked out that allowed both sides to harvest fairly.

This year no such agreement is in place, and according to the French fishermen, the British have turned up en-masse, in 131 feet boats, to strip the scallop beds leaving nothing behind for when the French will eventually be allowed to join in.

The Royal Navy’s entire fisheries protection fleet was unavailable when French trawlermen attacked their British rivals last week.

Not a single one of the squadron’s gunboats was in the English Channel when the ‘scallop war’ flared up on Tuesday.

One was in dock, another was at a festival in Norway and a third was 8,000 miles away.

A fourth warship which came into service earlier this year has been sent back to dock riddled with faulty equipment.

First the scallops, now the crabs! UK fishermen accuse French rivals of sinking crab pots worth thousands of pounds 

French fishing boats are smashing up British crab pots amid furious rows between trawler crews on either side of the Channel, UK fisherman have claimed. 

British crews have now accused the French of destroying and damaging crab pots off the coast of Newquay and Padstow as they trawl the waters off Cornwall. 

Fisherman Martin Gilbert said he has he lost 50 crab pots, worth an estimated £3,000, after 10 French trawlers, some up to 85 feet long, entered waters where British crews usually fish.

British fishermen have accused French trawler crews of smashing up their crab pots in the latest dispute between fishermen on either side of the English Channel

He told local paper The Newquay Voice: ‘What they have been doing is towing the crab pots out of the way so they can make room to drag their nets. Three boats in Newquay have been clobbered and a Padstow boat had 150 crab pots dragged away.

‘There is an understanding that the French fishermen keep away from our crab pots and we stay away from theirs, but they encroach on our pots all the time. It is getting worse year on year.’

Fishermen hope that, after Brexit, French boats will not be able to enter a 12-mile limit, potentially solving the issue.


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