Watch: Scallop wars break out in English Channel as French fishermen attack British boats

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

This is the dramatic moment British and French fishermen clashed after a ‘scallop war’ erupted in the English Channel.

Rocks, smoke bombs and other projectiles are reported to have been hurled at English and Scottish vessels during the confrontation in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Reportedly outnumbered by the French one to seven, the British boats were allegedly attacked by the rival flotilla that had gathered overnight in protest over fishing rights.

Dramatic footage of the incident broadcast by France 3 Normandie showed boats colliding as an object was thrown toward them.


Some of the British vessels are said to have later returned to UK harbours with signs of ‘criminal’ damage.

Following the incident, a British MP accused French fisherman of ‘taking the law into their own hands’ and demanded answers from the Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

Sheryll Murray, the MP for South East Cornwall said she had received assurances ‘appropriate measures’ were in place to protect fishermen.

‘It is totally unacceptable when British boats are doing nothing wrong, they are allowed to fish there,’ she said.

Rocks, smoke bombs and other projectiles are reported to have been hurled at English and Scottish vessels during the confrontation (Screengrab)
Remarkable footage showed French and British vessels colliding (Screengrab)

‘It seems as though the French fisherman just took the law into their own hands.

‘I have been assured by Michael Gove that appropriate measures are in place to enable to fishermen to carry on fishing, I’m waiting to hear a further update from him.’

The long-running dispute is over a scallop-rich area of the Channel that French fishermen are prevented from harvesting due to domestic environmental laws.

Dimitri Rogoff, head of a Normandy fishermen’s association, said the violent scenes ‘demonstrate the exasperation of Normandy fishermen in a situation which persists and does not change’.

The clash between the boats took place in the English Channel, close to France (PA)

Are added: ‘I urge everyone to avoid these situations that endanger men’s lives.’

One of the British boats involved in the clash is said to be the Honeybourne 3, a Scottish scallop dredger.

The Scottish White Fish Producers Association condemned the ‘vigilante’ French fishermen.

The group said: ‘Attacking our vessels is appalling.’

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Britain’s National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has appealed for calm, saying the dispute should be resolved through negotiations.

The group’s chief executive, Barrie Deas, told the BBC: ‘We have raised the matter with the British Government and asked for protection for our vessels, which are fishing legitimately.

The dispute is over a scallop-rich area of the Channel that French fishermen are prevented from harvesting due to domestic environmental laws (Rex)

‘The deeper issues behind the clashes should be settled by talking around the table, not on the high seas where people could be hurt.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘We are aware of reports of aggression directed towards UK fishing vessels in an area of the English Channel not under UK control.

‘These vessels were operating in an area they are legally entitled to fish.’