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French fishermen 'attacked Brixham boats with rocks over quotas'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 12, 2012

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Westcountry fishermen say they were attacked off the coast of France after fighting between rival boats broke out over quotas in prized fishing grounds.

About half a dozen fishing boats from Brixham were surrounded by 40 French boats in the Channel 20 miles north of the French coast where the fishermen say they were pelted with stones and attacked with flares.

Anton Bailey, from Brixham, said he was surrounded by boats while fishing legally in international waters off Le Harve, which had been previously been closed off to French boats. He said crew members pelted his boat with rocks, fired flares at the crew and even tried to ram him.

"I have never seen this before and I have been at sea 20 years," he added.

"They were shooting flares at other vessels, every underhanded thing you could think of.

"Then they threw rocks at us and tried to ram us."

Fishing groups in the region say the Government has failed to help secure adequate quotas and days at sea in a dispute over lucrative scallop beds.

The fishing minister is said to be "monitoring very closely" the situation, which has been described by Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston as "totally unacceptable".

Dr Wollaston added: "I have spoken to Richard Benyon about this and he is very concerned – if our trawlermen are fishing legally there is no way they should be subjected to threats.

"Scallopers are unhappy about quotas and days at sea but the worst way to resolve this is to use intimidation – we expect the French to investigate and take this very seriously indeed."

Jim Portus, from the South Western Fish Producers Organisation, said negotiations had broken down, leaving French boats with five times the potential catch from the area.

He said the French fleet outnumbered Britain with around 100 boats compared to 12, with British boats only receiving 36 days of available fishing in three months from October.

"We don't usually have antipathy like this and before this kicked off we were endeavouring to come to an agreement," he added.

"Negotiations have failed this year and Government departments have not been supportive in doing these deals.

"We need to get to the nearest productive scallop beds and these are where the aggravation is kicking off – France has got a hell of a lot more boats involved."

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) detected the fracas using satellite monitoring system on Monday in the Bay de Seine.

Rod Henderson, head of coastal operations: at the MMO, said: "The MMO has the difficult balancing task of ensuring that fish stocks are not overfished and are managed throughout the year.

"The MMO is continuing high-level discussions with French counterparts to seek assurances that these issues will not recur."

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  • SidneyNuff  |  October 12 2012, 11:30PM

    A few Brixham fishermen go fishing, get drunk, catch nothing, then say there was at least 40 of them looking for a fight, fink they waz French. They are turning soft in Brixham.

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  • Othursty1  |  October 12 2012, 11:06PM

    Mrs. Numpty AKA Squirreleater, explain this: the same fishermen have now changed their story, no longer stones, no longer rocks - but now it's bricks. Check the BBC report. But I suppose you have an explanation. I suppose you are now going to tell me they go fishing for houses on the sea bed which mermaids live in, and hense this is where the bricks come from.

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  • jyppo  |  October 12 2012, 7:50PM

    je suis un rockstar

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  • Squirreleater  |  October 12 2012, 6:46PM

    @ Othursty1 AKA Numpty. Scallopers dredge the sea bed the sea bed consists of rocks....soooooo work it out!

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  • Othursty1  |  October 12 2012, 10:57AM

    Oh pull the other one. I hardly think this is true. You are making the French out to be war loads - just to get a headline. Probably the real situation went something like this "A near collision at sea was only averted by the French trawler shouting a warning at the English trawler since his horn was not working and radio contact had failed. Despite best attemps of both crew to sear away from each other, there was a slight nudge as the two boats rubbed against each other". And where exactly did they get these 'rocks' from. I suppose they were also carrying pumpkins as routing as another option of something to throw. Also interesting how the story first says 'pelted with stones', but then decides to beef up the story a bit and change it to 'pelted with rocks'. Were the French firing these 'rocks' from Cannons? - if so, it sounds more likely you sailed into a reenactment of a scene by the Spanish Armada.

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