LONDON (CBSMiami) – A battle over prized shellfish came to blows in the English channel.
French and British fishermen rammed boats in an angry dispute dubbed ‘The Scallop Wars.’
A French TV crew captured the clash on the high seas.
French fishermen fighting with their British rivals in waters off the Normandy coast, some throwing smoke bombs, stones and insults in a skirmish over scallops.
“Essentially, we’re fishing 14 miles off the French coast when a flotilla of French fishermen came out, surrounded the vessel along with mine and other UK vessels,” said UK fisherman Alex Passmore.
French law says its fishermen can only catch scallops in the area between October and May.
But Brits are able to fish all year round. French fishermen like Anthony Quesnel say the British are pillaging their flagship product.
“They start working a month before us,” he says. “And just leave us the crumbs!”
In previous years, both sides were able to reach an agreement to share the stock of shellfish – but this year that didn’t happen.
With 35 vessels to five, the French outnumbered the British and chased them away.
Now UK fishermen are demanding government protection.
British fishing authorities say the deep debate should be settled by talking around the tables, not on the high seas where people can get hurt.
No one was injured in Tuesday night’s skirmishes.