French Scallopers Licking Their Wounds, ‘Ready for Conflict’ If No Agreement Found

In a dispute dubbed the “scallop wars”, French fishermen who participated in an expedition to stop their British counterparts from fishing near the Normandy coast said on Aug. 30 they were ready to continue fighting for the rich catch if no agreement is found.

French and British scallop dredgers rammed into each other on Tuesday in Seine Bay over access to the scallop-rich seabed after French vessels tried to chase their rivals out of the zone, hurling projectiles and insults.

In one video, a British boat is seen ramming into a smaller French vessel, a “scary moment” recalled its captain Franck Tousch.

The French are irritated that British fishermen are allowed to harvest scallops, a key earner for the region, throughout the year, while they are prevented from doing so during the summer.

Scallops—known as Coquille Saint Jacques in France—are one of just a few species whose catch is governed by national rather than European Union regulation.

France bans all scallop dredging between May 15 and Oct. 1, but Britain allows its vessels to operate year-round.

French scallopers say they hope an agreement with their British counterparts can be found soon but if not, one said, they are ready to head back out to stop English vessels from dredging.

While British ships have no access to French territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles (22 km) off the coast, they can legally operate in the expansive Seine Bay that stretches from Cherbourg to Dunkirk.