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Could The Royal Navy Be Asked To Help British Fishermen?

French and British fishermen clashed in a fight over scallops - with French boats being accused of throwing stones and smoke bombs at...

British fishing vessels library image

Library image of British fishing vessels (Image: PA).

British fishermen are calling for protection from the UK Government after a 'scallop war' broke out off the French coast.

French and British fishers clashed in a fight over scallops - with French boats being accused of throwing stones and smoke bombs at English and Scottish vessels.

Their complaint was that the British have been depleting scallop stocks without giving them a chance to recover.

Dramatic footage of the incident broadcast by France 3 Normandie showed boats colliding as an object was thrown toward them:

Some of the British vessels are said to have later returned to UK harbours with signs of "criminal" damage.

The long-running dispute is over a scallop-rich area of the Channel that French fishermen are prevented from harvesting due to domestic environmental laws.

Dimitri Rogoff, head of a Normandy fishermen's association, said the violent scenes "demonstrate the exasperation of Normandy fishermen in a situation which persists and does not change.

"I urge everyone to avoid these situations that endanger men's lives."

One of the British boats involved in the clash is said to be the Honeybourne 3, a Scottish scallop dredger.

But this is not the first time British and French Fishermen have clashed over the rights to scallops - back in 2012, violence erupted in the English Channel over the same dispute. It prompted calls for the British to send in the Navy - but this went unanswered.

The Scottish White Fish Producers Association condemned the "vigilante", French fishermen.

"Attacking our vessels is appalling," the group said.

Britain's National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations has appealed for calm, saying the dispute should be resolved through negotiations.

"We have raised the matter with the British Government and asked for protection for our vessels, which are fishing legitimately," its chief executive, Barrie Deas, told the BBC.

"The deeper issues behind the clashes should be settled by talking around the table, not on the high seas where people could be hurt."