BRITISH Fishermen are calling on the government to deploy the Navy after a shocking attack in which British boats were surrounded and pelted with rocks by French fishing boats.
A flotilla of 35 French boats went out, by the admission of the Normandy Maritime Authority with the express aim of stopping the 5 British boats from working.
The French accuse the British of breaking a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ which has seen both French and British boats allowed to harvest the scallop beds which technically speaking the French are banned from doing outside a 12-mile exclusion zone by French national law aimed at allowing stocks to replenish.
The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, NFFO, condemned the “outrageous behaviour” of the French. Barrie Deas, NFFO chief executive.”Throwing stones and firing flares is not only dangerous but illegal under maritime law and there will be consequences. The primary concern at the moment is the safety of the crews on both sides because on the basis of footage that we have seen, there are some very dangerous maneuvers going on which could have tragic consequences. Only then can the issues of substance about access rights and management of scallop stocks and sustainable harvesting can be discussed and settled.”
He added that he “would not be surprised” if Brexit was a factor driving the French attack. Unsurprisingly, the government response was weak. A spokesman said: “We are aware of reports of aggression directed towards UK fishing vessels in an area of the English Channel not under UK control. These vessels were operating in an area they are legally entitled to fish. The safety of the UK fleet is our highest priority, and we will continue to monitor the presence and activities of vessels in the area. We are in contact with industry and the French Administration to encourage meaningful dialogue and prevent further incidents from occurring.”
This is simply not good enough. Will this government ever actively defend British interests? Past form suggests we should not hold our breath.