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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

French navy 'ready to intervene' in scallops row with UK fishing boats

Reports say British royal navy ships sailing towards Normandy coast

French and British fishing boats collide during confrontation over fishing rights. Reuters
French and British fishing boats collide during confrontation over fishing rights. Reuters

France's government said today its navy is standing by to prevent further clashes between French and British fishing boats after last week's confrontation over scallop-rich waters off the Normandy coast.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert told CNews television the navy was "ready to intervene in case of clashes" after fishermen hurled stones and insults in the latest battle of a long-running "Scallops War".

A patrol boat based in nearby Cherbourg is watching the area "to ensure the safety of people and ships at sea," Captain Bertrand Dumoulin told AFP.

Mr Travert said he could not speak for the British royal navy, whose ships are reportedly headed towards the area.

At stake is access to rich stocks of the pricey delicacy in waters near the mouth of the Seine, with French boats allowed to fish there only between October to May to protect stocks.

But a deal struck years ago exempts British boats less than 15 metres long from the restrictions, a loophole French fishermen will want to see closed when the two sides meet for talks on Wednesday.

Clashes too place last Tuesday when five British boats engaged with dozens of French vessels in waters about 12 nautical miles off the French coast.

Some fishermen from both sides also rammed each other's ships, video footage showed.

"We're going to have to work on this, because this situation cannot continue, we can't have clashes like this," Mr Travert said.

But he also claimed most British fishermen were also "Brexiteers" who should not expect a separate deal with France as the UK prepares to leave the European Union in March next year.

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Read more: Peace talks after Franco-British scallops dispute flares up

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