French fisherman who attacked British fisherman over scallops don’t “have the right” to do that as they’re an international resource, says fishing negotiator.
Jim Portus from the South West Fish Producers Organisation has said the waters in which the scallops of harvested from are “international” so British ships are “entitled to use them.”
The comments come after reports emerged of French fisherman attacking British fisherman off the coast of Normandy, in a so-called ‘scallop war’.
Joining Mike Graham on talkRADIO, Portus said: “The waters are international, the scallops are international, we are entitled to harvest them so we do,
“They [the French] choose to close the fishery from the beginning of May until the beginning of November and then they gradually open it, and when it’s open they harvest about 17,000 tonnes of the stuff.”
UK has to 'grow a pair'
Questions have been raised about the right to fish there come March 2019 once the UK has officially left the European Union, to which Portus said the UK is “going to have to grow a pair” in relation to our waters.
“Of course we’re going to have to grow a pair as they say, and make sure we’re in a position to do precisely the same in relation to our waters.
“Of course we don’t go inside their 12 mile limit that’s what the irony of this is.
“French fishermen have been welcome between 6 miles and 12 miles around Devon and Cornwall particularly, and their vessels have been coming into those waters since the 1960s and they want that to continue after Brexit.
“Now we’ve never been inside their 12 mile limit and they’re being really precious about a resource that is in international waters - on this occasion, and quite frankly, they don’t have right on their side.”
Portus explained to Graham that to prevent this from happening in the future the Royal Navy may need to be present and more “negotiating”.
“We should first of all have our Royal Navy Fisheries Protection Squad, and they should be out there assisting us and getting in-between British fisherman and French fisherman to ensure that safety of life is not put at risk, which is what the French have been doing in the last 48 hours.
“Apart from that negotiation… negotiation is needed.”
“There’s a bit of a stand-off now, the British vessels have left the area and the French vessles are still milling around hoping they don’t come back behind their backs kind of thing, but vessles have returned to Brixham to do repairs, windows were shattered, and paint pots were thrown.”
Time for 'calm'
Britain's National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations has appealed for calm, while the Scottish White Fish Producers Association lashed out at the "vigilante behaviour".
Bertie Armstrong, of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said: "This is a time for calm, for rational discussion and peaceful resolution, not conflict at sea.
"As control over access and fisheries resource changes in the next few years, it will be imperative that the rules are agreed, accepted and, where necessary, enforced."