An Anglo-French deal has been struck for 2019, with compromise on both sides resulting in an agreement that rules out conflicts over scallop fisheries in the Baie de Seine this year.
In 2018 there were clashes between British and French fishing vessels. Under the 2019 accord, reached at a meeting held in Ghent earlier this month, the Eastern Channel scallop fishery will be closed to both French and UK vessel on 1st August.
‘This deal for 2019 was made in the face of great pressure to avoid repeating the Scallop Wars of 2018 and 2012. Last year the intransigence of the French led to stalled negotiations and an open fishery that ought to have been closed by consent. The UK boats did as they were legally allowed. Eventually the French returned to the talks and we brokered a deal,’ said Jim Portus, chief executive of the South-West FPO.
‘This year I was determined to keep the French in talks until we had a settlement agreeable to both sides. Compromise was required by UK and France alike. Both sides moved from entrenched positions to centre ground and I think we have the best that could be done.’
British and French scallopers will remain apart as the Eastern Channel opens on 1st October, with the UK fleet operating north of a line drawn 24 nautical miles off the French coast, or the median line, whichever is the closest to France, while the French scallop fleet will remain south of that line.
An open season commences at 0001on 19th October, when the fleets can operate in each others’ waters.
The accord does not apply to the UK <15m fleet, which remains free of restrictions as in previous years.
In return, the French industry will transfer an amount of Western Waters Scallop Effort to the UK, making it possible for the larger side of the UK fleet to operate effectively in Area VII without exhausting its limited days at sea.