Monday, 29 July 2019

Bay de Seine “Scallops War” averted by careful negotiations and compromise on both sides

SWFPO's Jim Portus reports that an Anglo-French deal has been agreed for 2019.

The deal, arrived at after extended and often intense industry to industry talks, will avert a repeat of the ugly scenes of 2018, when French scallopers attacked British boats fishing for scallops (legally) in the Bay de Seine at a time when it was closed to Frenchmen.

Under the 2019 Accord, first brokered at a meeting between the two sides in Ghent on 2nd July, the entire east Channel scallop fishery will close to both sides on 1st August. Then, on 1st October, the waters of the east Channel will open to UK scallopers north of a line drawn 24 miles off the coast of France, or the “Median line” between the 2 nations, whichever is the closer to France. French scallopers will fish south of that line from 1st October. The “open season” will prevail from 0001 19th October, when the 2 fleets will inter-mingle without hostility.

The accord will not apply to any UK vessels of smaller than 15 metres in length. They will be free to roam as in all previous years.

In return, the French will transfer an amount of “Western Waters Scallop Effort” that the UK requires to enable its fleet of larger vessels to exploit fisheries in more distant parts of the ICES Area 7 without the risk of exhausting restricted and limited days at sea.

Jim Portus said, “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.
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.

A “Scallop War” has been averted for 2019.