British fishermen have vowed to return to English Channel later this week despite so-called ‘scallop wars’ being fought with the French.
A sea battle blew up in the sea off the France this week after Normandy crews accused British trawlers of ‘scallop pillaging’ in a row over access to the Seine Bay.
French maritime authorities today appealed for calm and branded clashes between rival boats ‘very dangerous’.
But British fisherman insisted they have done nothing wrong and will return to fish in the area at the end of this week.
Fishermen Callum Clark and Nathan Clark were among those attacked by the French this week
Brian Whittington says he’ll return to the seas off France despite the ‘absolute nightmare’ of being rammed by French trawlers
Nathan Clark, skipper of the three-man Brixham based Joanna C, said it was ‘very scary’ when stones and flares were thrown at them.
He said: ‘I’ve never had anything like it before. It was an absolute nightmare. Things being thrown at us and being rammed.
‘My nephew Callum was petrified – it’s his first year on the boats and he was cared for his life.
‘We had to get him in the boathouse to get him under cover and away from the objects being thrown.’
But despite safety fears, he’ll return to the area later this week, insisting: ‘It won’t stop us. We’ll take a few days off but we’ll go back out there again.’
Brian Whittington, skipper of the trawler Golden Promise, which was involved in the battle, will also return.
He said: ‘It won’t stop us – we’ll go back. It’s international waters – we’re allowed there. Maybe the Royal Navy could help us next time.’
Locals in Devon have meanwhile warned that someone could be killed in the ongoing war over scallops off the coast of Normandy.
Earlier this week, a British fleet of four boats was up against at least 40 from Northern France before police finally intervened in the Seine Bay.
Nathan Clark shows the damage done to his ship in the nighttime ‘battle’ this week
Footage of a night earlier this week showed French crews throwing stones and smoke bombs onto British ships
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.
Tensions have run high for at least 15 years, during the so-called ‘Scallop Wars’. The French want their ‘Anglo-Saxon’ enemies to stay north of a line from Barfleur to Cap d’Antifer, both in Normandy, and only to use small vessels to avoid running down supplies.
But residents in Brixham, where some of the boats caught up in the dispute are based, have backed British fishermen.
On a local Facebook discussion, Andrew Elsey wrote: ‘French pain in a***, I hope they get the book thrown at then as someone will get killed or hurt.’
Patricia Shears added: ‘They have done exactly the same to us in our waters. We watched them cleaning out Torbay many years ago. Could see it all happening from our house.’
Some locals called for the Royal Navy to be sent out to protect British boats.
Barrie Deas, chief executive of Britain’s National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, also urged calm from both sides.
One of the British shops involved in the skirmishes was back in dock in Shoreham this morning
Dents were visible in the bow of the Honeybourne 3 this morning following the clashes
Mr Deas said: ‘We have raised the matter with the British Government and asked for protection for our vessels, which are fishing legitimately.
‘The deeper issues behind the clashes should be settled by talking, not on the high seas where people could be hurt.’
Normandy fishing chief Dimitri Rogoff said: ‘The French engaged the British to stop them fishing, they clashed with each other.’
He claimed the British were ‘pillaging’ the multi-million-pound scallop supply crucial to both the French and UK fishing industries. He said: ‘Stones were thrown but there were no injuries or damage.
‘The French regulation requires French fishermen not to exploit scallops between May 15 and October 1. The British do not have to respect this regulation.’
The UK has no such regulation, although in previous years an agreement has allowed both sides to fish fairly. This year, no such agreement is in place.