September 17, 2018 / 7:41 PM / a month ago

France, Britain reach deal over scallop fishing dispute

PARIS (Reuters) - French and British fisherman have reached an agreement to end a dispute over scallop fishing in the English Channel, a French Agriculture Ministry official said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: French and British fishing boats collide during scrap in English Channel over scallop fishing rights, August 28, 2018 in this still image taken from a video. France 3 Caen/via REUTERS

The row, which arose as Britain negotiates its exit from the European Union, centered on the size of the boats that are allowed to fish in the Baie de Seine where scallops can be found in large quantities.

French fishermen had accused the British of unfairly catching scallops in the Baie de Seine during the summer, when French boats are banned from doing so because of French regulations aimed at protecting shellfish stocks.

The clashes had seen some French and British fisherman throw rocks and other projectiles at each other. Earlier this month, France warned it would deploy the navy if necessary in what has been dubbed the “scallop wars”.

“A deal has been reached and will be passed on to authorities in the two countries to be finalised,” the French official said, giving no details.

British fisheries minister George Eustice welcomed what he said was a “pragmatic” outcome.

“This means our over-15-metre fleet will get the days at sea it wanted, while allowing the under-15-metre fleet to continue fishing in the area,” he said in a written statement.

Fishing rights are likely to become an increasingly sensitive issue as Britain negotiates its future relationship with the EU after Brexit in March 2019.

Reporting by Matthias Blamont in Paris and Elisabeth O'Leary in Edinburgh; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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