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

This Week in Brexit: UK leaves London Fisheries Convention

by John Brian Shannon | Reposted from LettertoBritain.com

Environment Secretary Micheal Gove has signaled that the UK intends to leave the London Fisheries Convention (LFC) as the first move towards an eventual Brexit completion within 24 months.

The original London Fisheries Convention was signed in 1964 and it allowed vessels from Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands to fish in British waters in the 6 to 12 nautical mile range which was a significant upgrade for those fishers as UK coastal areas are abundant fishing grounds.

(It was also a significant upgrade for those who ship any kind of contraband to the UK because it allows them to get much closer to British shores and drop their loads with less chance of being detected by police — and people wonder why London has the world’s highest cocaine concentrations in their wastewater treatment plants!)

Once Brexit completes, UK fishers will obviously lose their right to fish in EU waters in the 6 to 12 nautical mile range.


The Tory government said the change will allow more direct control and better responsibility for fisheries management in the 0 to 12 nautical mile range.

“Leaving the London Fisheries Convention is an important moment as we take back control of our fishing policy. It means for the first time in more than 50 years we will be able to decide who can access our waters. This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union – one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK.”Michael Gove, UK Environment Secretary

“This is welcome news and an important part of establishing the UK as an independent coastal state with sovereignty over its own exclusive economic zone.”Barrie Deas, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organizations

“For years, successive UK governments have blamed Brussels for their own failure to support the small-scale, sustainable fishers who are the backbone of our fishing fleet. If Brexit is to herald a better future for our fishers, the new Environment Secretary Michael Gove must keep the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto commitment to re-balance fishing quotas in favour of ‘small-scale, specific locally based fishing communities’.”Will McCallum, Greenpeace UK


In 2015, the British fishing industry caught 708,000 tonnes of fish worth £775 million.

A claimed 10,000 tonnes of fish were caught by EU countries in Britain’s waters in the 6 to 12 nautical mile zone. (2015 statistics) It could be much higher than that, but nobody would know because nobody is policing it!

That’s a minimum of £17 million in fish that leaves Britain each year. Fish that will now be caught by UK fishers (and presumably) will be processed by UK fish processing and packaging plants, adding even more value to the British economy.

Scottish government says UK is right to leave fishing deal (BBC)

It’s true that since 1964 when the LFC came into existence the UK fishing industry lost millions of pounds sterling and hundreds of jobs every year for the privilege of belonging to the then-European Community / now European Union.

As so often happens in the postwar relationship between Britain and continental Europe, it is Britain that winds up subsidizing the continent.

How else can it be termed anything but ‘subsidizing the continent’ when millions of pounds sterling (in this example, raw fish) and hundreds of fish processing and packaging jobs were handed to the continent every year since 1964?

Here! Take our jobs! We’re British!’

Now that PM Theresa May has delegated this poignant case to Secretary Gove with instructions to effect a win for UK fishers, fish stocks will rebound, there will be more jobs for UK fishers, there will be more UK fish processing and packaging jobs, and anti-contraband efforts in UK waters will become more effective.

And that’s no fish story!


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