France’s navy is “ready to intervene” if there are any further skirmishes in the long-running scallop war between French and British fishermen.
French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert warned that forces could be sent out to police the waters if there is a repeat of last week’s conflict over the molluscs.
“We can’t go on this way. We can’t have clashes like this,” Travert told French news channel CNEWS.
“I don’t know if the Royal Navy are in the area but I know that the French navy is ready to intervene if there are clashes. They are there to police the waters.”
Industry representatives from the United Kingdom and France will meet in London on Wednesday to try to resolve the issues that led to last week’s violent confrontation on the English Channel.
Video of the incident broadcast by France 3 Normandie last week showed smoke bombs and rocks being thrown at British crews, while a number of boats appeared to be rammed.
The five British boats, greatly outnumbered by an estimated 35 French vessels, were chased from the scallop-rich Baie de la Seine area off Normandy.
The incident took place 12 nautical miles off the Normandy coast where British crews are allowed to fish throughout the year, while their French counterparts are restricted to a harvesting season running from October 1 to May 15.
At issue is the different fishing rules for French and UK businesses.
French vessels are not allowed to harvest scallops between May and October to allow the species to reproduce, whereas British boats face no such restrictions because the fishing is taking place in international waters.