Fishing boats from France and the UK clash

France vs. UK: Battle of the Fishing Boats

Fishing boats from France and the UK clash in international waters off the French coast

While my head is with the British fishermen attacked yesterday for legally scraping for scallops in international waters, my heart is with the French fishermen who illegally attacked the British fishing boats.

It seems the government of France passed a law that only French fishers must obey, but those French fishermen and fisherwomen were upset not at their own government, but at the British fishers who were merely exercising their legal right to harvest scallops in international waters — and chose to throw large stones at the British boats and crews (breaking some windows in the UK fishing boats) and (dangerously) shot flares across the decks of a British fishing vessel.

It needs to be said again, that the British fishers were operating legally in international waters and following all EU and UK laws.

French law has only the power to restrict French scallop fishermen and fisherwomen — and the actions of the French crews aren’t acceptable in a civilized world.

If French fishers have a problem with French law… they need to take it up with the government of France. Full Stop! (Arrêt complet!)


Yet Another Reason to Exit the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)

If UK fishers are expected to follow all relevant EU laws (and they do) but French fishermen aren’t expected to follow all relevant EU laws (and they don’t — that’s now proven by these latest acts of violence and intimidation) how is that fair to the British?

Fishing in UK Waters

When EU and UK fishers operate in British waters they must follow all relevant EU and UK laws even if they must toss millions of tonnes of dead fish overboard every year — because under EU law — if the fish are not of a certain size they must be thrown back (dead or alive) into the water. Which has a devastating effect on the UK fishery and the larger North Sea fishery. How could it not?

And French (or other EU boats) are never attacked by UK fishermen in international waters nor in UK waters…

Fishing in International Waters

Yet for some reason, fishermen from France feel they have the right to threaten and assault UK fishers and damage British fishing vessels that are operating legally in international waters.

That’s a stark difference in mindsets between UK fishers and French fishers…

And it’s called ‘entitlement’.

French fishers feel they can assault UK fishers because they feel ‘entitled’ to do so — even though the UK boats were operating in international waters and were following all relevant fishing laws of the EU and the UK.

It’s certainly not the fault of UK fishers that the French government banned French fishers from scallop fishing from May 15 to October 15!

Feelings of ‘entitlement’ by French fishermen and fisherwomen is perhaps symptomatic of a larger problem throughout the European Union; EU citizens feel ‘entitled’ while UK citizens feel they themselves must always follow the law. See the difference in mindsets?

Perhaps it’s just one of many reasons that the first time Britons got a chance to vote on EU membership they voted to Leave… but I’m sure that reasoning (causality?) was lost on those French fishermen during the heated exchange at sea.

Let’s hope the UK fishers take the French fishers/vandals to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and that damages are awarded to the innocent UK fishers. If not, we’ll know that the EU doesn’t practice what it preaches…

Written by John Brian Shannon

Image credit: BBC


Read another article about EU / UK relations: Getting the EU to the Brexit Negotiating Table

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John Brian

Editorial Board at kleef&co. Published by the UNDP.