After ten days of discussions, the French and British fishermen did not reach an agreement. Counterparties requested by the British were considered unacceptable.

It's over. " We hissed Wednesday night the end of the game in the negotiations on the scallop with our British counterparts "Explained Thursday at" Echoes ", Hubert Carré, Director General of the National Committee of Marine Fisheries and Marine Livestock (CNPMEM). " In exchange for a withdrawal of their boats less than 15 meters – the crux of the conflict, Ndlr – juntil the opening of shellfish fishing in France on 1 October, the British demanded compensation in terms of mackerel quotas. Compensation of 1,500 tons of mackerel equivalent to 2 million euros Adds Hubert Carré.

A counterpart considered unacceptable by the French fishermen who had proposed Friday to the British 50 tons of cod and 25 tons of soles. Given the lack of response from the British, who found the counterparty insufficient, the French decided to " to withdraw from negotiations on the exploitation of the scallop in Manche According to the statement of the National Committee of Marine Fisheries and Marine Livestock.

The question of fishing dates

To understand the nature of these negotiations, it must be remembered that the British began fishing the scallop shell about ten years ago, from 3000 tons per year to 30,000 tons per year; also recall that while the fishing effort for scallop (measured in kilowatt-days) is governed by the European Union, its management is not, starting with the issue of fishing dates. To preserve the precious mollusk, the French have imposed themselves rules whose prohibition – set by ministerial decree – to fish between May 15 and 1stOctober, in French territorial waters (up to 12 nautical miles from shore) as in Community waters (beyond).

Since 2013, France and Great Britain had reached bilateral agreements also forbidding the British, in exchange for certain counterparts, to fish before 1 October in the Eastern Channel sectors and south of a line Barfleur-Antifer, deposit considered the richest in Europe. But the ban only applied to vessels over 15 meters. The British rushed into the breach and developed their fleet of boats under 15 meters. In July 2018, the French demand that these smaller boats are now also included in the agreement. Faced with the refusal of the British, no agreement was found for this year 2018.

Two months later, it is clear that the two parties find themselves face to face without agreement. The break in negotiations between Paris and London calls into question the "agreement in principle" Franco-English found a week ago for boats over fifteen meters, said Hubert Carré.

On the British side, the fishermen judge that the negotiation is over on the boats of less than 15 meters. " We find that the French are not ready to accept our demands for compensation. The offer we received from them is derisory Mike Park, head of the Scottish Fishing Association Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said in a statement to "Echos" that have made very strong arguments for a certain level of compensation ".

An open door

British fishermen, on the other hand, leave the door open for a resumption of discussions on the biggest boats. " We wish to continue discussing boats over 15 meters and invite the French to return to the negotiating table to conclude an agreement on this aspectMike Park said. We must be careful because the tone of the discussions we have this year will set the tone for next year ". A request that may pose a problem for French fishermen, who have always asked that the two subjects be linked: the boats over 15 meters, covered in recent years by an agreement with the British preachers, and the case of smaller boats, which they wished to extend the scope of the agreement.

New altercations?

To the question "should we expect further altercations at sea? Hubert Carré replies that he may be some provocations from the British ". But he immediately adds: " they have no interest in exhausting their fishing days; if they exhaust them now, they will not be able to go fishing for the shell in December, when the shell sells the most expensive ".

Ironically, it is to the French that the English sell most of their shells. Indeed, if English and Scottish fishermen are more and more interested in the scallop, it is not for their domestic consumption – the English do not like scallops – but … for the export to France, first consumer country.

Claire Garnier and Alexandre Counis

Correspondents in Le Havre and London


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