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Scallop war puts a strain on the auld alliance

So much for Scottish Brexit spokesman Mike Russell’s “entente cordiale” trip to France this week.

While the EU campaigner was in Paris telling French businessmen that he was “making it clear how much importance we attach to our friendship with France” Scots fishermen were being pelted with rocks from French sailors after a “scallop war” broke out in the English Channel.

That’s the problem with trading relationships. As soon as one side thinks it’s getting treated badly they start getting angry and doing silly things. Donald Trump and the rest of the world, for instance.

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

They may have a case, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to assault others going about their business in scenes that revived memories of the famous cod wars of the 1970s.

The Scottish White Fish Producers Association condemned the “vigilante” French fishermen, though there was no word from Mr Russell who, for all we know, may have been tucking into a plate of French scallops while battle waged on the high seas.

As he used his address to throw a few verbal rocks at the UK government over the Brexit chaos, Mr Russell drew on the strength of the auld alliance to argue his case for maintaining trade relations with Scotland’s third biggest export nation.

“Business links between our two countries are very important,” he told France’s largest business conference on Tuesday night.

Let’s hope that same sentiment extends to those trying to fish the waters between us.



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