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French fishermen walk out of Scallop Wars talks

media Scallops being examined for quality in a French port © RFI/Béatrice Leveillé

French fishermen pulled the plug on talks with their British counterparts after failing to reach agreement on the Scallop Wars that saw the rivals clash off the coast of Normandy.

"It's game over," Hubert Carré, the head of France's CNPMEM national fishing committee, told the AFP news agency. "We made an offer last night that we considered more than fair, the same we made last Friday. We told them we wanted an answer by midday,"

The two sides reached a preliminary agreement last week.

It would have barred UK boats from waters off the Baie de Seine area outside the season, which runs from October to May, when the French are banned from fishing the molluscs to prevent exhaustion of stocks.

A previous deal let British boats smaller than 15 metres fish the area before then.

France proposed allowing British boats to fish 50 tonnes of cod and 25 tonnes of sole in place of the scallops, Carré said.

But the British demanded more compensation, "because they thought we were bluffing", according to Carré.

"It's the unanimous stance of all industry representatives," he said. "Now it's over, we won't be going back to the negotiating table."

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