WATCH: French Fishermen Fire Flares, Throw Frying Pans and Oil at British Boats

People working in the fishing industry supported by the pro-Brexit Fishing for Leave organisation launched flotillas nationwide on April 7, 2018 in protest against the prospect of Britain continuing to adhere to the EU's Common Fisheries Policy that sets quotas and fishing rights during the transition period after Britain has …
NIKLAS HALLEN/AFP via Getty Images

French fishermen were filmed firing flares and throwing frying pans at British boats in a revival of the so-called ‘Scollop Wars’ in the English Channel, amid ongoing disputes between the two nations over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Approximately 20 French ships surrounded two British fishing boats, the Girl Macey and the Golden Promise, at around 1:30 am on Monday, off the coast of Normandy. Members of the French crews were caught on film throwing objects, oil, and firing the flares at the British.

The violence on the sea has reportedly been escalating over the previous weeks, with the skipper of the Golden Promise, Brian ‘Winkle’ Whittington telling The Sun: “I was expecting it this time, they only do it in the dark. We can’t use the radio when they do it as they just talk over us instantly, so I couldn’t check on Scott to see how he was.”

“We were about two miles apart and I had two or three boats around me. Scott had 15 around him, they were throwing oil at him and firing flares,” Whittington said.

“I was mentally prepared for it, I knew it was going to happen again.”

Whittington said that the actions of the French will not deter him from fishing scallops in the area, so he and his crew can earn their living.

“I’m going back over there today, it will happen again tonight. It will take me about ten hours to get there, I’m mentally prepared for it to happen again. We don’t fight back, if we start throwing things at them then it will be our fault and not theirs,” he said.

A crew member of the Golden Promise, Derek Meredith, said that if the flares hit the wheelhouse, then the whole boat would have been engulfed in flames, possibly threatening the lives of the Britons on board.

“Would the French have helped?” he questioned, answering: “The boat would sink and the French would just leave our boys to drown.”

“They shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, but they seem to get away with it every year… Last year they smashed our windows and stuff and nothing happened.”

Mr Meredith said that the crews often have to call on the Royal Navy to protect them from the French, yet nothing is done and his team has to fend for themselves.

In response to the footage, former Brexit Party MEP June Mummery said: “Prime Minister this is what the French think of the UK Fisherman, appalling behaviour.” She went on to question whether the prime minister, minister Michael Gove, and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will just “sit back and let this happen?”

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage called the actions of the French fishermen “extremely dangerous”, saying: “As EU negotiations continue, this video shows why fishing matters.”

The House of Commons passed the Fisheries Bill on Wednesday, in a move that would “take back control” over Britain’s fishing waters once the United Kingdom is freed from European Union control at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st.

The legislation will allow the UK to become an independent coastal state after Brexit, meaning that foreign fishing boats would be barred from fishing in British waters without a licence.

Environment minister Victoria Prentis said that the bill represented a “once in a generation chance” for British fishermen to take back control over the island nation’s fishing resources. Yet, the move has apparently drawn the ire of French fisherman on the other side of the Channel.

In 2012, a similar series of spats commonly referred to as the ‘Scallop Wars’ took place. In October of that year, approximately 40 French ships surrounded and tried to “slam” into a British scollop trawler throwing rocks at the ship, which they claimed was in the 12-mile fishing exclusion zone — a claim denied by the British fishermen.

In 2018, 35 French fishing ships surrounded and rammed into two British boats, firing flares and throwing stones. In response to the aggression, one of the British vessels tried to ram into the French.

Three ships were damaged in the process, and the French Navy vowed to patrol the waters to prevent further hostility.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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