Scallop wars at an end as UK and French fishing industries strike peace accord

A peace deal has been agreed to end the so-called scallop wars between British and French fishing fleets.

One of the British boats that came under attack from French fishing counterparts.

Vessels from the two nations clashed over the summer in a dispute about access to fishing grounds in the Baie de Seine.

Under the terms of the agreement, UK vessels under 15 metres will continue to be able to take scallops from the waters but larger boats will cease fishing activities in the Baie de Seine from Tuesday until the end of October 30.

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National regulations allow British ships to fish legally in the area all year round but French fishermen are banned from taking scallops in the Baie de Seine for a period between May 15 and October 31 at the latest to conserve stocks.

A previous industry accord prevented UK vessels larger than 15 metres doing so too, but smaller ones could help themselves.

When that deal broke down, tempers flared as French boats clashed with their British counterparts.

Some 35 French vessels confronted five British craft off the coast of northern France, with reports of rocks and smoke bombs being hurled at UK boats.

Fisheries minister George Eustice welcomed the deal reached by industry representatives from both sides of the English Channel.

He said: "This means our over-15m fleet will get the days at sea it wanted while allowing the under-15m fleet to continue fishing in the area. I commend the UK fishing industry for its patience throughout negotiations and welcome this pragmatic outcome."

Jim Portus, chief executive of the South Western Fish Producers Organisation, said: "Industry members were not entirely ecstatic about the French holding them to ransom since failing to sign the accord in July, but I think this is a better outcome than we faced at the end of last week."