Tensions escalate in the English Channel as French vessels fire a flare at British fishermen.
Two British fishing boats were surrounded and attacked by an estimated 18 French fishing vessels. The incident took place off the coast of Normandy at around 1:30am on Monday morning.
The Girl Macey, skippered by Scott Glover, and the Golden Promise, by Brian Whittington, were fishing for scallops in the channel when they became surrounded by the French vessels, which threw multiple objects including frying pans and rocks.
As the situation escalated, the French crews began to throw oil at the Girl Macey before firing a flare at the boat, sparking fears that future incidents could result in death.
Nigel Farage tweeted a video of the incident. Farage, who recently exposed the French Navy escorting migrant boats into British waters, said: “We must stand up for our nation and end this constant bullying. Sufficient naval vessels must defend our interests.”
As EU negotiations continue, this video shows why fishing matters.
Multiple French vessels are caught throwing objects and firing flares at British fishing boats, attacking under the cover of darkness.
Excuse the language in this film but what happened was extremely dangerous. pic.twitter.com/Bgu8VWUoiZ
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) October 14, 2020
Brian Whittington, 43, said: “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.”
The owner of the Golden Promise, Derek Meredith, expressed his concern that the incident could easily have resulted in death. He warned: “If that flare went into the wheelhouse, the boat would have burned up, and would the French have helped?”
Adding: “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.”
British scallopers are allowed to fish year-round, but the French are not permitted to fish between 15th May and 1st October. Despite the fishermen knowing what awaits them, they advised they will be returning to the Channel.
This is not the first time French vessels have attacked British fishermen. In 2018, a similar incident occurred when French fishermen threw objects and rammed British boats that were fishing legally. This can be seen below:
A Defra spokesperson said: “We are very disappointed by this reported incident in the Bay of Seine. The British vessels were fishing legally and have every right to do so in safety. We support UK vessels fishing where they have a legal right to do so and have been in contact with the French Government to ensure those rights are protected and safety at sea is assured.”
With less than three months to go until Britain leaves the EU’s Single Market, fishing has become a key focus point in negotiating a trade deal. This has been especially related to access for EU fishermen to UK waters.