Mike Hookem MEP has branded violent attacks by French fishers on British scallop vessels, as “nothing more than piracy,” while asking the French Chairman of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee to “urgently act” on the issue.
However, Mr Hookem’s efforts were rebuffed by Frenchman, Mr Cadec, who said, “it’s not here [in the European Parliament] that we will decide who is at fault… we will find out through the appropriate channels.”
Mr Hookem raised the urgent question in the influential parliamentary committee after shocking videos published on social media, showed French scallopers attacking their British counterparts – who were fishing legally in international waters – with rocks, smoke grenades and amid reports of firebombs.
Raising the question of the “highly organised” attacks – the only MEP to do so – Mr Hookem told the committee that the French fishers’ actions could have caused “injury, death and the sinking of vessels;” before asking Mr Cadec to intervene with the French authorities to bring those responsible “to book on the law.”
However, Mr Hookem’s appeals were rebuffed by the Frenchman, who in a short verbal response said that while he could “understand the emotion;” and that the Parliament would eventually find out who was at fault, it was “not here [in the parliament] we’re going to do that!”
Social Media Posts Show French Fisherman Advertising Weapons to Use Against British Scallop Vessels
UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP has blasted French fishermen who have been advertising where to buy weapons such as metal ball-bearings and catapults for use against British scallop vessels, saying, “if action is not taken quickly, someone is going to be killed!”
Mr Hookem’s comments came after a French fisherman posted Amazon links to metal ball-bearings and high-strength catapults on a social media post, which called for French fishers to “get the heavy artillery out” in the fight over scallop fishing rights in international waters.
Speaking from Brussels, where yesterday the European Parliament Fisheries Committee refused to intervein in the row; Mr Hookem said the social media posts – which show weapons in the boot of a fisher’s car – were “a worrying escalation of already high tensions in the English Channel.”
Mr Hookem continued, “trying to block fishers at sea with other vessels and throwing stones is quite aggressive enough, but actively encouraging people to buy and use weapons against British fishers is quite another thing altogether.”
“The high-strength catapults are designed to kill small animals and could maim or kill any British fisher unlucky enough to be hit by one of the steel ball-bearings.
“While our flaky politicians in Westminster talk about opening dialogue, it would seem the French fishers are preparing to take the assault on British fishers to a whole new level.
“Rather than making meaningless statements, the British Government must get off their backsides and act now to ensure the safety of British fishers in the Bay of Normandy. Or would they prefer to wait until someone is injured or killed and then wheel out the meaningless platitudes of sorrow for the wholly unnecessary situation?
“If it means sending vessels from the Royal Navy and air assets from the Royal Air Force to protect the British ships, then so be it!
“Under the EU’s vaunted Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) these British fishers are acting in complete adherence of the law and have every right to go about their business is as safe a manner as possible, without threats from their jealous French counterparts, who are bound by French national law.”