‘Scallop wars’ between Britain and France are just a pre-Brexit skirmish

Magnus Johnson, Bryce Donald Stewart

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Scallop fishing attracts controversy. Dredgers scrape scallops out of the hollows they make for themselves in the seabed, and in the process disturb seaweed and other sea life that lives fixed to the bed. Even among senior marine scientists there is disagreement as to whether it is possible to do this sustainably. Most agree that certain vulnerable habitats such as seagrass and maerl beds should never be dredged, but that in some other areas dredging may be no worse than the disturbance from storms or currents.

Scallops are also valuable – only mackerel and prawn fisheries are worth more to the UK.

Scallop dredges have metal teeth that dig into the seabed and flip scallops out of the sand into the nets.

All this has led to battles between British and French ships over access to fishing grounds in the Bay of Seine off the coast of Normandy in northern France. The most recent conflict in the so-called “scallop wars” saw 40 small French boats try to chase off five larger British boats. Stones were thrown and boats collided, but there were no injuries or sinkings.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2018


  • Scallops
  • Scallop fisheries
  • Fisheries
  • Fisheries management
  • Brexit
  • international Relations

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