France has promised to send additional police boats to its north coast to prevent further escalation in a row between French and British fishermen over scallops.
French fishermen sent nearly 40 boats to the Normandy coast on Monday to confront British scallop trawlers, which they complain are depleting scallops stocks. The UK fishermen say they are legally entitled to fish there under European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Local officials described an “extremely tense” situation, with the two fleets throwing stones, flares, and other objects at each other in clashes overnight.
The row is a recurring problem for British and French fishermen, as British boats are permitted to gather scallops all year-round, while the French restrict scallop fishing season to between 1 October and 15 May to give the scallop stocks a chance to replenish.
A recent 2016 report by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) warned that the fishing by French, British, Belgian, and Irish vessels in the Baie des Seine was “too high” and resulting in a “tragedy of the commons” scenario, where stocks are overfished due to a lack of sustainable management decisions.
The French also complain about the British use of large-scale dredgers to fish for scallops, while the French fleet tends to be made up of smaller fishing boats. These complaints are similar to those made by British fisherman about large Spanish and Portuguese vessels fishing a few miles of the UK shoreline and depleting fish stocks.