French and British fishermen come to new agreement

The Saint Jacques scallops (coquilles) are subject to strict fishing dates in France to preserve stocks

French fishermen have agreed with their British counterparts on when and how they can fish for prized Saint-Jacques scallops (coquilles), after talks in London this week addressed recent discord.

Talks took place over several hours in London this week. New discussions will take place in Paris to finalise the agreement tomorrow (Friday September 7).

Last week, tensions erupted between fishermen in the Baie de la Seine, after around 30 French boats attempted to stop five British vessels from fishing in the area, by throwing stones and shouting insults.

The Baie de la Seine is a 100 km by 45 km rectangular area of sea to the north of Normandy, and seen as a prime fishing area for the scallops.

According to an existing agreement from 2017, French boats - of any size - are only allowed to fish for the Saint Jacques scallops in the area from October 1 to May 15, to help protect stocks. British ships were asked to respect the same rules, but only for ships over 15 metres long.

Now the Normandy fishermen have demanded that all British boats be subject to the same date agreement as the French, regardless of size.

Gérard Romiti, president of French fishing committee la Comité National Français des Pêches, said: “We have renewed the agreement of 2017 [for boats over 15 metres], and we have an agreement in principle for those less than 15 metres long.”

A press release from the British Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed this.

Yet, according to the French minister for agriculture fishing, Stéphane Travert, the agreement will only be finalised after the talks in Paris on Friday.

Mr Travert said: “Such an agreement is necessary to preserve the sustainable management of Saint Jacques scallops”, which are the result of “the investment by professional Frenchmen over many years”.

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