This is a press release from Mike Hookem MEP.

UKIP fisheries spokesman demands action to protect the “rights and welfare” of British scallop fishers after French moves to use Navy to protect Baie de Seine scallop grounds

UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP has accused the French of “picking and choosing” EU fishing laws; after moves by France to use their navy to “blockade” the Seine Basin scallop grounds from British fishers, after clashes last week.

Mr Hookem’s comments came after a lone British fishing vessel, Morning Star, was “chased away” from the rich scallop grounds in the Baie de Seine area by the French navy. The incident follows a warning by French fisheries minister, Stephane Travert; that British scallop vessels should not venture south of the 63-mile Barfleur-Antifer line, despite the waters being outside of France’s 12-mile limit for restrictions.

Speaking of the French actions, Mr Hookem said, “this is France wanting its cake and to eat it too! It is not up to the French to pick and choose which EU laws they obey in order to give their fishers an unfair advantage!”

“The French would be the first to complain if Britain used the Royal Navy to block their access to British waters outside of our 6-mile limit, never mind 14 or 15 miles off the coast.

“In my opinion, under the terms of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – which grants equal access to all EU waters outside of a national 12-mile limit – the French blockade is illegal and must be challenged at the highest level.

“Therefore, I have this morning written to both government minister, George Eustice at DEFRA, and the EU Commissioner responsible for fisheries, Karmenu Vella; demanding to know what action they intend to take.

“British fishers have a right to fish in that area under the terms of the CFP and to do so without intimidation and provocation.

“If the French wish to place bans on their fleet harvesting scallops at certain times of the year, that is their business. However, if a ban is not implemented by the EU, then it does not apply to other nations using the same grounds under the terms of the CFP.

“Therefore, I would like Theresa May to lodge an official diplomatic complaint with the French Ambassador and the European Commission.

“I would also like to see reciprocal bans for French trawlers operating in British waters, but I would put good money on the fact that our current Government is too weak to even consider such a move.

“France must learn that every action has its consequences and the only way to do that is to show that we as a country are not only strong, but that we will not be pushed around in this way.

“The French are acting illegally and therefore should be punished accordingly. Otherwise, the ugly scenes we saw last week will simply continue and get worse until someone is killed.” 

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