A shellfish of the kind known as a scallops. Author: George Chernilevsky.


Scallop wars Fishermen recall 'terrifying' clash with French boats

Two UK fisherman speak to Sky's Rebecca Williams about the night they were attacked by French fishermen in the Channel in a row over scallop fishing.

The background

The Baie de la Seine or Baie de Seine (Bay of the Seine River) is a bay in northern France.

The UK and France have fished for scallops in the Bay of Seine, 12 miles of the coast of Normandy for decades. 3 Scottish and 2 English heavy fishing boats ran into conflict with 35-40 heavy and light French fishing boats. The French love their coquilles St-Jacques, or Normandy scallops, and the English also like scallops. France, the UK, Belgium and Ireland all fish for scallops thire. 

The law says

France restricted the fishing season to between 1 October and 15 May and outside a 12 mile exclusion zone off the coast to maximise scallop breeding. British boats could come at any time of the year, but chose not to in since 2013. The larger boats have also stayed out the area in exchange for more fishing rights for smaller boats by both sides.

Anger has grown over the last 15 years, as have catches. Over the last 5 years the UK has respected this, but the UK renounced the deal in 2018, which the French had already independently canceled earlier that year. UK fishermen then assumed that this gave them the right to fish it out (AKA- fatally over fish it)!

Shellfish stocks.

A 2016 report by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) warned that the level of fishing was "too high" in the Bay of Seine.

The ecanomic value

  1. The UK scallop industry is worth £120m.
  2. It supports 1,350 jobs.
  3. About 60% of the catch is exported, mostly to the French.

But the UK's Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (UK) said that, in total, the French fleets make far more money from catches in UK waters than UK fleets did in French waters.


After Brexit, the zone would go entirely over to French fishermen, but the UK illegally wants it to be part of UK territorial waters.

Related past crimes

In December 2016 the Honeybourne III’s master, a Mr Poland, and Macduff Fishing Fleet were found guilty of and also admitted the breaching fishing regulations after undersized shellfish were uncovered by authorities during a search in Shoreham, West Sussex, on the behalf of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). Some 2.65 metric tonnes of scallops in the boat’s hold were found to be under the legally prescribed size of 110mm. It was created to protect younger scallops.

The company was fined £16,409 and ordered to pay £3,567 in legal costs at Worthing Magistrates’ Court. The boat’s master was fined £1,400 and ordered to pay £150 in costs at Worthing Magistrates’ Court.

At the time the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which brought the prosecution, said:-

“The impact on the stocks is potentially considerable. By taking this enforcement action the MMO has acted to help ensure that this vessel was not able to profit from retaining and landing undersized fish.”

The Macduff Fishing Fleet is part of Macduff Shellfish, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian company Clearwater Seafoods. It was acquired it in a £98.4m business deal in 2015.

The fishermen's official accusations

French fishermen's official accusations

Norman fishermen complained the British were straying into the exclusion zone, using destructive seabed dredging techniques and much bigger trawlers than the French use. The British trawlers are 30 metres (98 feet) long, which are around double the size of the smaller and more 'artisan' French boats.

The Scottish boat Honeybourne 3, is indeed, a scallop dredger.

British fishermen's official accusations

The British fishermen claim to be exacting of a legal right to fish in the area.

The clashes


‘Scallop war’ between British and French fishermen

France is ready to deploy extra police boats to its coastline in an effort to prevent any more clashes between French and British fishermen over scallops. (Click to subscribe for more Channel 4 News videos. https://www.youtube.com/channel4news?sub_confirmation=1) The row erupted after British boats continued fishing in the area known as the Bay of Sein, around 12 nautical miles off the Normandy coast. French law prevents their fishermen from going out during the summer months in an effort to conserve stocks. Talks will now take place, but not before UK fishermen accused their French counterparts of "high seas piracy".

August 26

5 small French boats take on 1 middle sized British boat just inside the 12 mile exclusion zone. The French threw stones, flares and smoke bombs at the British.

August 27

15 small French boats take on 1 large British boat outside the 12 mile exclusion zone. The French threw stones, flares and smoke bombs at the British. The Honeybourne 3, Golden Promise and Joanna C were catching scallops off coast of Le Havre and driven of by 20 French fishing boats of various sides. The Honeybourne 3 rammed a French boat during the event.

August 28

35-40 big and small French boats take on 5 large British boat outside the 12 mile exclusion zone. The French threw stones, flares and smoke bombs at the British. The British rammed 3 French ships and later the French rammed a British ship.

August 29


August 30

More French police boats patrol the bay.

August 31

UK and French fisheries ministers hold a summit to resolve it. It is ongoing...

September 1

A few small French and British boats clash outside the 12 mile exclusion zone. The French threw some metal equipment and fishing takkel at the British.

September 5

UK and French fisheries ministers hold a summit to resolve it. The treaty is renewed by both sides. It is ongoing...

September 18

The fishery ministers agreed to a 6 week annual ban on larger UK fishing boats entering the areia during the French banning period.

Damages caused


The Golden Promise and Joanna C had smashed windows. The Honeybourne 3 had a dented hull.


3 ships had dented or broken hulls.

Myths and spin

  • The British did not herl a huge number cans of Red Bull energy drink at the French.
  • A shotgun was not fired at the British by the French.
  • There are no "Hords of sewage outflow pipes" are not "crammed along the Normandy coastline".
  • There are no "Masses of sewage outflow pipes" are not "vomiting sewerage on mass across the Dorset coastline".
  • No one had died on either side.
  • No ships were sunk on either side.
  • The French navy patrol boat had not opened fire on either side's fishing boats on August 29.
  • French tourists did not publicly hoist "a half ripped French flag" on  Lyme Bay's beach during August 29.
  • No British boats dumped oil drums "full of toxic and smelly gunge" on any of the beaches of the Cotentin Peninsula August 29 or September 5.


The British government unconditional backed the UK fishermen.

British fishermen called for the navy to sink any rivals to thire next and bigger fishing fleet.

The UK news papers condemned the French for not unconditionally submiting to the British fleet, and bayed for a fisheries related war with France.

A spokesman for the South East Fish Producers' Organisation denied the scallops were in dangerously low numbers. 

The EU called for peace talks.

The international environmental group ClientEarth said it was "disappointing" to see the fishing boats catching scallops during the spawning season, when the reportedly depleted stocks could reproduce and grow.

Marc Delahaye from the Normandy Fishing Committee said their organisation objected to the British using "great dredgers" in the area, while the French used smaller and mostly wooden hulled fishing boats.

Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, called the clash "high seas piracy", but said the French had agreed to a request for peace talks.

Macduff Shellfish announced it would partner with the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers to host a scallop management conference in the UK during February 2019.

A French local government maritime spokesperson, Ingrid Parrot, said:-

"Things were thrown on both sides - from the English and from the French. Both parties were extremely tense."

Barrie Deas, chief executive of Britain’s National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (UK) said:-

“We are advising all parties to be calm as from the video clips some vessels are manoeuvring very dangerously.”

Normandy fishing chief Dimitri Rogoff said:-

“The French went to contact the British to stop them working and they clashed with each other. Apparently there was stone-throwing, but no injuries”.

The aftermath

The fishery ministers agreed on September 18 to a 6 week annual ban on larger UK fishing boats entering the areia during the French banning period.

Also see

  1. EU
  2. Brexit
  3. Fisheries disputes
  4. Jeremy Corbyn's January 16, 2019 vote of no confidence
  5. French Channel Ports
  6. The UK-EU 2020 fishing problem



British, French governments in talks regarding "scallop wars" between English and French fishermen

영•불 '가리비 전쟁'…양국 어민들 해상 육탄전까지 The British and French governments are discussing ways to address the so-called "scallop wars" between English and French fishermen. Violent clashes escalated in the English Channel last week over the harvesting of scallops, with boats ramming into each other and projectiles being thrown. French fishermen argue their British counterparts have an unfair advantage as they don't have restrictions on scallop harvesting. Paris restricts French boats from operating in the area between May and October in order to protect shellfish numbers. The French government has said its navy would intervene in future clashes to ease tensions. The UK said it hopes both sides can reach an "amicable" solution. Arirang News Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/arirangtvnews ---- [Subscribe Arirang Official YouTube] ARIRANG TV: http://www.youtube.com/arirang ARIRANG RADIO: http://www.youtube.com/Music180Arirang ARIRANG NEWS: http://www.youtube.com/arirangnews ARIRANG K-POP: http://www.youtube.com/arirangworld ARIRANG ISSUE: http://www.youtube.com/arirangtoday ARIRANG CULTURE: http://www.youtube.com/arirangkorean ARIRANG FOOD & TRAVEL : http://www.youtube.com/ArirangFoodTravel--- [Visit Arirang TV Official Pages] Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/arirangtv Twitter: http://twitter.com/arirangworld Instagram: http://instagram.com/arirangworld Homepage: http://www.arirang.com -- [Arirang K-Pop] YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/arirangworld Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/arirangkpop Google+: http://plus.google.com/+arirangworld.

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