UK and France fail to agree deal to end ‘scallop wars’

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British and French fishermen have failed to finalise a deal to end the so-called “scallop wars” in the English Channel.

Industry leaders were unable to agree a compensation package during negotiations in Paris on Friday, which was aiming to cease recent skirmishes.

A Scottish scallop dredger in dock at Shoreham, West Sussex, following clashes with French fishermen. Picture: PA

A Scottish scallop dredger in dock at Shoreham, West Sussex, following clashes with French fishermen. Picture: PA

The basis of an agreement was formed in London this week, with small UK vessels pledging not to fish in the area of dispute during the period French laws prevented their counterparts.

• READ MORE: French and Scottish boats clash after ‘scallop war’ in English Channel

But this was on the basis British crews would not lose out financially, and the price appeared to have been too high for the French during the latest discussions.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokeswoman said further talks could be held next week.

“We are making progress,” she said. “Discussions are continuing and we are looking at next steps.”

British ships can legally forage in the disputed territory - the Baie de Seine - all year round.

But the French are banned from taking scallops there between May 15 and October 1 to conserve stocks.

• READ MORE: British sailors on HMS Queen Elizabeth arrested in first overseas trip

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

However, trouble flared last week when some 35 French boats confronted five British craft off the coast of northern France last week, with reports of rocks and smoke bombs being hurled at UK mariners.

Captains of small British boats voluntarily agreed not to forage in the Baie until a deal was struck - but they had expected this to be sealed on Friday.

Whether they can continue to uphold this will remain to be seen.