Thursday 13th September 2018
Mike Hookem MEP has slammed a French fisheries body after the collapse of talks aimed at ending the recent ‘Scallop War’, saying, “the French seem to expect the British to roll over and accept a deal with little compensation.”
Mr Hookem’s comments came after French fishing industry body CNPMEM issued a statement saying the French industry has decided to withdraw from negotiations between France and the UK over access to scallop fisheries in the English Channel.
While CNPMEN was keen to blame the British for the collapse, saying, French fishermen working in the Channel were willing to make 'terms of compensating the British for suspending their activities,’ Mr Hookem said the statement did not “reflect the reality of the situation.”
Mr Hookem continued, “we have all seen in the recent videos how the French fishers were willing to ‘make terms’ and compensate their British counterparts!”
Following an initial round of talks, it was agreed that British fishing vessels would abide by the French imposed restrictions – which restricts the harvesting of scallops in the Baie de Seine area until 1st October - as long as fishers did not lose financially. However, the French decided to walk out of the compensation negotiations, claiming the British demands were too high.
Speaking from Strasbourg, Mr Hookem said, “the law is clear under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – British vessels under 15 metres are allowed to harvest for scallops in the Baie de Seine all year round.
“It is not up to the French to pick and choose which EU law they follow!
“If the French expect British fishers to merely stop fishing without a compensation package of equal value to their potential catch, then they are living in a dream world.
“The British fishing industry is already on its knees following years of unequal and unfair EU quota restrictions, which hands French fishers up to 90% of the fishing rights in the English Channel. For British fishers, scallop fishing is one of the few profitable activities left open to them.
“My concern following the collapse of these talks is a return to the disgraceful attacks we saw on British fishers two weeks ago. That is why I am demanding that both the European Union and the British Government act to protect British fishers going about their lawful work.
“So far, the EU has sat on its hands, despite my demands in parliament and questions to the Commissioner. It is EU law that has driven British fishers to harvest these areas, and it’s EU law that is being threatened by the protectionism from France. However, where are the fines and the denouncements of these illegal actions by the French?
“As for protection for British fishers from our Government, well, I’m not going to hold my breath!”