France says talks with Britain over scallop fishing end in failure

Scallops on a market stall during an annual celebration of scallops in Port-en-Bessin, France. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - Talks between French and British fisherman over rights to catch scallops have ended in failure, France's agriculture ministry said on Wednesday (Sept 12), raising the risk of further tensions at sea.

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

"Agriculture and Food Minister Stephane Travert notes the failure of the fishermen to reach an agreement for this season's scallop fishing," the ministry said in a statement.

French and British fishing representatives had reached an outline deal earlier this month but have since been unable to finalise terms.

Travert has warned that the French Navy is ready to act if there are fresh clashes between fishermen of the two countries in what has been dubbed the Scallop Wars.

The two sides had agreed a deal for boats over 15 metres last Wednesday, hoping to find an agreement for catches by smaller boats in further talks.

French fishermen had made a final offer to their British counterparts on Tuesday, setting a Wednesday deadline for the British to accept, an agriculture ministry spokeswoman said.

The head of France's National Fishing Committee, Hubert Carre, said that the British side had made "exorbitant" demands to be compensated for not fishing.

He said the French side had made a "take it or leave it offer" and their British counterparts "did not even deign to answer".

Asked if further high-sea clashes were likely, he said: "I don't know. We'll see if the British try to provoke us."

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